“Julie’s Law” is a Wisconsin bill named in honor of Julie Ayer. The patient had breast augmentation surgery in 2003. Sadly, the patient flatlined during the procedure. CPR was initiated, but too late. The patient was transported back to Wisconsin where she died three months later.
According to the patient’s brother:
“The doctor had no license in anesthesia. He was required by state medical law to have an anesthesiologist present. He decided knowingly and conscientiously to bypass this and operate,” said Ayer.
Fast forward, more than a decade later, the brother has made it his mission to obtain justice for his sister. He wants to increase transparency in operating rooms and teamed up with a state Representative to propel a law enabling patients to request audio and visual recordings of what goes on in operating rooms.
A similar bill was proposed in 2015 and six state medical societies argued against it. The Wisconsin Hospital Association distributed a memo encouraging lawmakers not to sign the bill. The Wisconsin Medical Society noted that the operating room is already a high stress environment. Adding cameras and audio recording to this environment would increase the underlying stress without benefit.
“With the successful implementation of cameras in other areas of our lives, like transportation and law enforcement, why are they not in an area where lives are so clearly on the line,” says Chris Nowakowski, who says his wife died from medical malpractice.
To me, the analogy to a black box in an airplane breaks down. The black box records a plane’s vital signs and cockpit recordings. There are no cameras in the cockpit. And indeed, when adding cameras in the cockpit was proposed, pilots vehemently argued against it. Further, a black box is triggered only during a tragedy, such as a plane wreck. Black boxes are not routinely opened up for analysis. A law enabling access to video and audio in the operating room as if it was part of the medical record would be a formula ripe for misinterpretation and abuse. There are already many devices in the OR recording any number of variables. I’m not sure what extra benefit would be gained by listening to the operating room banter. But, I can easily imagine how such video could be used for fishing expeditions.
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