Ottawa Hospital installs ‘black box’ tech to record surgeries

CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Ottawa’s Katie Griffin
Published Saturday, February 16, 2019 1:16PM EST

Black boxes on airplanes can shed key insight into what could have caused it to crash, but medical professionals hope this type of technology could help improve surgeries.

The Ottawa Hospital is installing black box-like technology in one of its operating rooms to record audio, video and patient vitals – all of which will be examined later.

Clinical research associate Nicole Etherington said this could help keep track of what happens during surgery and help doctors find areas of improvement.

“It’s all synchronized together to give us a complete picture of what happens inside the O.R.,” she told CTV Ottawa.

Dr. Sylvain Boet, an anesthesiologist and lead researcher at The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, agreed and said the technology could be a valuable teaching tool.

“Before that we relied on simulated practice or some specific event that we analyzed — after the fact,” Boet told CTV Ottawa. “Now, for the first time we can actually see what’s happening in everyday practice and learn from it.”

But researchers say measures will be taken to ensure patient confidentiality and doctor privacy. Etherington said this would include precautions such as blurring the faces of doctors and patients, as well as, distorting people’s voices.

She added that an external team would then watch and analyze the information — which is expected to be collected and analyzed over the next few months.

“It’s never anyone at The Ottawa Hospital that is looking at the data in real time. It’s analyzed after the fact,” she explained.

One of the hospital’s patient advisors Maxime Le said he supports the new technology too.

“It allows for some sort of oversight and it’s a comforting feeling knowing that if anything ever happens, we can always look back at what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen in the future,” he told CTV Ottawa.

Boet has also high hopes for the impact from the data saying, “in the future. we hope to get more black boxes, and scale it up so we can learn from more surgeries [and] more specialties.”