Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I'm not that standardized

Here's a new proposal. Give surgeon's a black box to help prevent medical errors, like they have in air planes.

The proposal:

"Inside the operating room, video cameras track every movement. Outside, a small computer-like device analyzes the recordings, identifying when mistakes are made and providing instant feedback to surgeons as they operate.

This is the dream of the surgical "black box." Operations could become flawless. Post-operative complications could be significantly reduced. Surgeons could review the footage to improve their technique and prep for the next big case."

The goal is so a surgeon learns of a mistake when it can be corrected and not after the fact. They get a computer assist. And more significantly they could be adopted in the US without FDA approval as they are not a device or anything.

I'm not saying that I am against improving medical errors or anything. I have myself dealt with a few mishaps in the OR but I do not think the human body is standard enough for this. Each human is unique. That's it. We are all one of a kind.

If someone wants to operate on me, I have many issues - from lack of thyroid, previous surgeries which have left scars, and more. I know they can be programmed into a computer before hand but still.  An individual human being is needed who can interpret the information and unique qualities of the body they have opened up in front of them.

I think of it this way. You are going to a strange place and you program the address into your GPS and start on your merry way. But then the GPS sends you to a road which has a detour and it recalculates around it, so you keep going. It even tells you when you are speeding to give you additional information and recalculates your arrival time. Then it forgets to tell you that the off ramp is on the left and not the right. And then there is an accident ahead so you try to get off the highway and make another detour. And then your GPS sends you down a one way street in the wrong direction.

You needed a human there to guide you to read the signs and notice the detour ahead. Or to tell you about a new problem the patient is having.

A friend had a bad colonscopy and had to have a colectomy. The surgery took much longer than expected because the doctor who removed the polyp at the colonscopy did not note correctly where it was that it happened so the surgeon had to spend quite a bit of time looking for the exact spot. What would that little black box do then? React like the robot in "Lost in Space"? 'Danger, Will Robinson, danger!' That wouldn't exactly prevent much of anything.

There is research going on with these currently in Canada with plans to test them in Canada, Denmark and South America.

But I am really not ready for them to be used on me anytime soon. I would rather have a better trained surgeon than a computer assisted surgeon operating on me.

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