Are surgical black-box recordings in New York’s future?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Black-box bills like the one known as Raina’s Law are making their way around several states including New York. These bills have been gathering support for victims of medical malpractice and surgical errors. The bill known as Raina’s Law was named after a 19-year-old patient who lost her life during a surgical procedure because of negligence by her anesthesiologist. Raina’s Law and other bills like it would require hospitals and other medical practices to use a black-box-like system to record surgical procedures.

Black-box bills have received national support with the hope that operating room surgical recordings would help patients and their families pursue medical malpractice claims if they suffered as a result of negligence by health care providers or staff members. It has even been suggested that recording can be used by disciplinary boards to identify and reprimand careless doctors.

Some criticism of these bills is that they may be too small of a remedy to tackle a national problem. While Raina’s Law would only be used in New York and could not offer protection to other patients in other states, each state would have to pass their own black-box law, which is a long and difficult process. It has been suggested that passing a federal level law that makes the use of black-box recordings in operating rooms a requirement nationwide may be the best way to address the issue.

With as much support as these bills have, there may be strong opposition by medical providers out of fear recordings may be used against them regardless of negligence. One remedy to their concerns would be for malpractice insurers to put certain requirements and restrictions on the use of the black-box recording in malpractice claims. While Raina’s Law is not yet effective in New York, it may prove valuable in the fight against malpractice. For victims of medical malpractice, speaking to an attorney can help.

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