Will cameras be allowed in operating rooms?

A Wisconsin state lawmaker is attempting to pass a bill that would allow surgeries to be videotaped at the request of patients.

Surgical errors are just one of many types of medical errors that can result in serious complications or injuries. Some patients even die of from errors made in the operating room. That is exactly what happened to one Wisconsin native when her non-certified surgeon operating without the assistance of an anesthesiologist or licensed nurse attempted to perform her breast surgery.

During the procedure, ABC Action News reports that the woman flat lined on the table and slipped into a coma, dying three months later after being flown back to her family in Wisconsin. Efforts on the part of the woman's family members have gotten the attention of a state representative who has introduced a new bill to the legislature that would allow cameras in operating rooms.

The black box approach

The concept behind videotaping surgeries is similar to having the black box in airplane cockpits as it would provide valuable additional evidence to people and family members who have been the victims of medical errors or negligence.

According to a report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, cameras would not be required in every operating room but could be requested at the discretion of the patient. A person could request the videotaping for an individual operation or could create an advanced directive that stipulates any surgical procedure they undergo should be videotaped.

A look at medical errors in Wisconsin

The Green Bay Press Gazette reported recently that medical malpractice suits have decreased in Wisconsin in recent years. In 1999, there were 294 such suits filed. In 2014, there were on 84 suits filed, which is the lowest number ever. It is believed that this dramatic decline is due to laws in Wisconsin that protect health care providers at the expense of injured patients.

Challenges inherent in Wisconsin laws

Three elements of the law in Wisconsin have an impact on the number of malpractice suits filed. One of these is the limit on the amount of money victims can be awarded for their damages. Wisconsin caps non-economic (pain and suffering) damages at $750,000 regardless of the circumstances of a case.

Second, it is extremely expensive and time consuming to file and pursue a medical malpractice claim and some indicate, as in another Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report, that these costs can be a deterrent to filing legitimate claims.

A final element is that a wrongful death claim due to medical malpractice can only be claimed by spouses, parents of minor children or minor children who have lost parents. This means that if a health care provider causes the death of an unmarried adult with no minor children, under Wisconsin law, there is no one that can bring a wrongful death claim. A push is underway to expand this to allow parents of adult children to bring a wrongful death claim when the death occurs due to medical error.

What people should do

Victims and loved ones who have been negatively impacted by the negligence of medical professionals deserve help. Talking to an attorney is always recommended.

Keywords: medical errors,operating rooms.