In any type of personal injury case, one of the keys to pursuing a successful claim is getting the weight of the evidence on your side. In order to convince the insurance company to settle or the judge to rule in your favor, you need to be able to show that the facts entitle you to financial compensation.
When it comes to medical malpractice cases for surgical errors, this can often be one of the most challenging parts of a lawyer’s job. The patient’s condition and expert testimony may point to an error during the procedure, but short of the doctor admitting to his or her mistake, in many cases there is no “smoking gun” that shuts the door on the doctor’s defense. This type of evidence isn’t always necessary, but when it is, victims can sometimes be left without compensation for their avoidable injuries.
Soon, however, that may change.+
Coming Soon to an Operating Room Near You?
Advocates of patient safety and healthcare reform have long pushed for cameras in operating rooms. “This is what many other high-performance industries have been using for decades,” says one expert who was recently quoted in the Washington Post. The statistics on medical malpractice support the need for video monitoring of surgical procedures as well: roughly 400,000 people die each year from preventable medical errors (also known as “never events”). This makes medical malpractice the third-leading cause of death in the United States, behind only heart disease and cancer.
At least one state has proposed a law that would require a camera to be installed in every operating room. With growing acceptance of technological advancements and wide recognition of the harm caused by surgical errors, other states may not be far behind. Like traffic and security cameras, cameras in operating rooms could serve as valuable sources of key evidence for plaintiffs seeking compensation for injuries caused by another person’s negligence.
Overcoming the Medical Establishment’s Resistance to Operating Room Cameras
Unsurprisingly, members of the healthcare industry are generally opposed to such legislation. As possible issues, they cite privacy concerns, as well as the impact that recordings could have on medical malpractice litigation. Nonetheless, legislators are pushing ahead with the proposed law mentioned above, with strong support from patient advocacy groups nationwide. With recent tort reform measures limiting patients’ rights in some states (though not as much in Connecticut), a law requiring video recording of surgical procedures would be a welcome recognition of the inordinate harm caused by medical negligence.