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Wisconsin considers bill to film surgical operations

Privacy is a major part of the healthcare system, which is why hospitals keep everything that happens during surgery confidential. However, one Wisconsin man is making the case for putting a camera in every operating room in the state.

The man lost his wife to a seemingly low-risk procedure when the surgeon cut a critical vein by mistake. When he attempted to sue the hospital for medical malpractice and wrongful death, he was not able to collect enough evidence to support a claim.

Therefore, he worked with State Representative Christine Sinicki to produce Wisconsin Assembly Bill 863, which would require hospitals to record surgery at the patient's request.

Benefits of recording operations

Patients and hospitals both stand to benefit if this bill passes. Possible outcomes may include:

  • Stronger evidence of medical malpractice
  • Incentivize surgeons to act professionally
  • Reduce dispute over the truth in court
  • Help surgeons learn from mistakes

To protect patient privacy rights, the bill states that filming would be optional. Hospitals should treat videos similarly to other patient records. Furthermore, hospitals may charge the patient $25 to film the operation. Medical providers would not face penalties if there is not enough time during an emergency procedure to set up camera equipment.

Medical providers push back

The bill is met with cynicism from some surgeons due to the legal implications it could have. In fact, the Wisconsin Medical Society has already promised to lobby in opposition.

A University of Wisconsin doctor, for example, believes that videos can aid surgeons, but they should not be part of a malpractice lawsuit. The vice president of the Wisconsin Hospital Association also called the idea "an ill-conceived proposal" and claimed that filming operations will not make them any safer.

Regardless of whether cameras catch a surgeon's every move, patients deserve to be as safe as possible while in the care of a hospital. Any negative consequences of a surgery should be the result of standard risk factors, never a negligent - or even intentional - mistake.

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