Video cameras are becoming commonplace in our society inside and outside businesses and homes. Many intersections throughout Chicago are now equipped with red light cameras that take snap shots of motor vehicles running lights. And at Rhode Island Hospital, video cameras are now required in the operating room, in an effort to curb wrong-site surgery medical malpractice.
According to a recent news report, the Rhode Island Department of Health has mandated Rhode Island Hospital install video cameras in all of its operating rooms. The mandate comes after five wrong-site surgeries in the past two years. Wrong-site surgery is defined by the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons as a surgery “that occurs because the surgeon operates on the wrong limb.” In other words, the doctor was supposed to operate on the patient’s left leg, but instead operates on the right leg. Wrong-site surgery is one of the purest forms of medical malpractice caused by a doctor or other medical professional’s negligence.
In a letter to Rhode Island Hospital, the DOH states that this mandate comes after “yet another incident involving a patient receiving a surgical procedure in error.” The article discusses incidents dating back to 2007, the most recent one involving a hand surgery. The Rhode Island Department of Health said “the hand surgery team failed to conduct a mandatory “time out” to between procedures to double-check their plans.” The time out between procedures comes from the Universal Protocol administered by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare, which is a not-for-profit organization responsible for accrediting and certifying over 17,000 health care organizations.
In addition to the installation of cameras, every doctor performing surgery at the hospital must be taped at least twice a year, and every surgery is to be observed by a “clinical professional” who is not part of the surgical team. The clinical professional must have “expertise in surgical site markings and time-out methods.” The hospital is also required to adopt Rhode Island’s Uniform Surgical Safety Checklist and Standard Definition.
For an excellent article on wrong-site/side, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors (WSPEs), check out this article from Pacific Medical Training organization. One of the takeaways from that article is that preventing these types of errors requires a collaborative effort among medical professionals, including:
- analysis of contributing factors;
- communication development;
- new and innovative technologies;
- improving the reporting of case occurrence;
- adopting a state error reporting system;
- learning from successful safety initiatives, such as in transfusion medicine; and
- reducing the shame associated with these events.
Currently, Illinois law does not require cameras in operating rooms. Certainly, video cameras in operating rooms would encourage medical professionals to practice safer and would curb the most egregious types of preventable medical mistakes.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as the result of a preventable medical error, contact an experienced Chicago injury lawyer about case today. Call us at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.