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New device may hold key to reducing surgical errors

Annually, millions of U.S. residents undergo surgical procedures. From planned surgeries to repair defects or prevent an individual from suffering additional harm or injury to emergency surgeries that are necessitated by a serious accident or medical condition, every surgery carries inherent risks.

An individual may have a bad reaction to anesthesia or experience a dangerous dip in blood pressure or heart rate. In other cases, a surgeon may err when performing an operation or procedure. From an accidental scalpel nic to an organ or artery to leaving a surgical instrument inside a patient's body, medical mistakes that occur prior to, during or post-surgery can result in a patient suffering pain, injury and even death.

Frequently when such errors occur, a surgeon and members of his or her surgical staff are unaware anything is wrong until a patient suffers permanent and disabling injuries. In an effort to aid surgeons in identifying if and when surgical mistakes happen, a Canadian doctor has developed what he calls a surgical "black box."

Using high-tech digital cameras, microphones and sensors; the surgical black boxes can track and record a surgeon's actions and movements. Data collected during a surgery is then analyzed by a computer which prompts surgeons and members of the surgical room staff when tactics being employed are dangerous or deviate from standard procedure.

The surgical black box's creator, a surgeon, hopes the device will eventually be widely adopted to aid in helping surgeons become more proficient and avoid making future errors. Initial results from testing of the black boxes indicate that surgeons make an average of 20 mistakes for every surgical procedure performed.

New Jersey residents who have been adversely impacted by a surgical error may choose to take legal action. Injuries resulting from surgical mistakes can adversely impact an individual's health, quality of life and financial wellbeing.

Source: CNN.com, "Surgical 'black box' could reduce errors," Dr. Chethan Sathya, Aug. 22, 2014

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