Patients Can Demand Cameras in the OR
Early in December 2017, Wisconsin state representative Christine Sinicki (D, Milwaukee) introduced a bill that would give Badger State patients the right to have a video camera record their surgical procedures, as a story posted on Channel3000.com, among other news sites, reports.
The bill—dubbed "Julie's Law" in memory of Julie Ayer Rubenzer, a Wisconsin woman who died after breast augmentation surgery in Florida in 2003—is similar to legislation that Sinicki introduced in 2015. That earlier bill stalled after staunch opposition from six state medical organizations, including the Wisconsin Medical Society (WMS).
The WMS is equally opposed to the new iteration of the camera-in-the-operating-room proposal, which would impose a fine of up to $25,000 on healthcare providers who failed to comply with a patient's request to have the procedure recorded.
In late November 2017, the Wisconsin Hospital Association sent a memo to state lawmakers urging them not to cosponsor the bill, in part because the case prompting the legislation had originated in another state. (In that Florida case, hearing records indicate that Rubenzer flatlined during the procedure but that doctors—with no anesthesiologist present, as required by state law—waited several minutes before starting chest compressions.) The patient was flown back to Wisconsin, where she died 3 months later.
The WMS also variously argues that the bill "changes the whole milieu of what's going on in the operating room," risks undermining the "relationship between the patient and the healthcare provider," and threatens rather than enhances the goal of "improving the quality and safety of care."
Supporters of Julie's Law dismiss these arguments as fearmongering. They contend that as in other professions, such as law enforcement and aviation, where lives are at stake and the need to monitor and correct possible errors is paramount—cameras in the operating room serve a valuable function that ultimately benefits both patient and provider.
According to the story, if the bill is passed, Wisconsin would be the first state to allow audio and video recordings in operating rooms.
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