Seen At 11: Using Technology To Stop Medical Mistakes Before They Happen

NEW HYDE PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Medical mistakes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and now, some area hospitals are turning to technology to make sure mistakes are caught before they even happen.

As CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported, medical mistakes are a patient’s worst nightmare. CBS2 reported in 2013 on a patient who went in for kidney surgery and had the wrong one removed.

But now, innovative surveillance technology is helping avoid deadly surgical mistakes, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving instruments inside a patient.

At Northwell Health Long Island Jewish Medical Center, cameras keep an eye on all 24 operating rooms – starting with the surgical team’s checklist to make sure they have the right patient and they are performing the right procedure.

The video from the cameras is streamed live and monitored by a team offsite. If proper procedures are not followed an alert is sent in real time.

“The key here I go back to is collecting information that everyone believes is valid, and then giving that information back to the teams while they’re working so that they can make a change right then and there,” said Dr. John Di Capua of Northwell Health.

Administrators call it a huge success. In just weeks, full safety compliance jumped from 25 percent to more than 90 percent.

“I’ve never seen that kind of cultural shift in such a short time,” Di Capua said.

The cameras are meant to reward and not to punish workers, so faces are blurred and they cannot be identified.

Adam Aronson of Arrowsight Inc., who developed the system, said teams compete to be in the winners’ circle.

“Instead of providing feedback that says you did something wrong, it provides aggregate team feedback that showcases the winners,” Aronson said.

The system also sends an alert when the procedure is done, improving efficiency. It even monitors cleanings between procedures – a key to preventing hospital-acquired infections.

Patients such as Bernard Cerrone, who recently had knee replacement, said brother or not, he welcomed the extra scrutiny. He noted that he has heard about surgeons operating on the wrong leg or eye.

“I felt there was an extra pair of eyes watching me and I felt really comfortable and secure,” Cerrone said.

LIJ is one of three hospitals in the Northwell Health system using the technology. Permission for the cameras is part of the patient’s pre-op consent.

Their identity is blurred, and all video is erased within 24 hours so confidentiality is maintained.

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