Now comes news that lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering a bill that would give patients the right to have their operations videotaped if they pay for it. The story claims that this could be done without a videographer being present in the operating room. And, get this, if a hospital refused to allow the videotaping, it could be fined $10,000.
Who thinks up this stuff? Can you think of any problems with this plan? I can.
It would not be difficult to record laparoscopic and arthroscopic procedures since they are already being performed using video equipment. There would be added expense because many hospitals have not purchased the necessary DVD recorders. However, open surgical procedures are not routinely videotaped and video equipment is not readily available to do so. Even when experienced videographers are present, it can be difficult to see what the surgeon is seeing.
Who would pay for the installation of video equipment in every operating room of every hospital in Massachusetts?
A comment on the article points out that the taping of all surgical procedures would be complicated, distracting and might cause surgeons to perform differently [possibly detrimentally] when they know they are being watched.
Sometimes things happen during a case that might seem untoward to a lay person. For example, due to magnification by the laparoscope, a few milliliters of blood can look like a hemorrhage. Occasionally, gallstones or bile may be spilled. Although this rarely results in complications, it could be construed as a “mistake” by a devious [is there any other type?] lawyer.
This would of course be a boon for plaintiffs’ attorneys. Wait, aren’t most legislators also attorneys? I wonder if there is a connection?
In summary, this plan is misguided, ill-conceived and stupid. Since it is being discussed in Massachusetts, it just might pass.