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Northwell Health Deploying 'Black Boxes' In Operating Rooms

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Surgery is now being recorded in some Long Island operating rooms.

It's a high-tech effort to improve safety, similar to black box technology used in airplanes, and it's not only being reviewed in the event of an accident.

They have them for trains, planes and automobiles, and now black box technology is coming to a hospital near you: Overhead while you are under the knife.

Long Island Jewish Medical Center is the first in the United States to install the OR black box in two operating rooms.

"There is no question that this is going to improve the quality for patients," said Dr. Louis Kavoussi, a urologist with Northwell Health.

Dr. Kavoussi welcomes the technology in his OR. Cameras and microphones record, and the data is transmitted to a Canadian company that analyzes everything from sterile technique to distractions.

"Who should or should not be coming in or out of the operating room, should telephone calls come in, should there be music played," Dr. Kavoussi said.

Through algorithms, it can predict a mistake and alert a surgeon.

"We all think as surgeons we are perfect, but we aren't. And this is an opportunity to use artificial intelligence to analyze what's going on in the operating room," Dr. Kavoussi said.

The founder - a surgeon himself - says it's like professional coaching.

"The reality is as long as there are humans, there will be errors," said Dr. Teodor Grantcharov, the founder of Surgical Safety Solutions. "We want to create a system that makes it very difficult to make an error."

Unlike the black boxes in transportation, it will not be used to assign blame. Northwell Health's chief quality officer says it is used to improve systems, not punish individuals. It's protected from subpoena in New York state as a quality control project. Patients are not identified.

"It's not going to be used punitively, and most importantly, the data is de-identified. They blur out the picture of the physicians and nurses and even garble the voices a little if we ever look so no one ever knows whose case was whose," Dr. Mark Jarrett said.

The plan is to install more of these black boxes in hospitals throughout the Northwell Health system. The more cases, the more data, the more quality control and improvement, officials said.

The technology is already in use in ten hospitals in Canada and western Europe.

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