Are Audio and Visual Recordings of Surgeries The Future?

Wisconsin Representative Christine Sinicki formally introduced a bill December 7th that would allow patients to request audio and visual recordings of their surgical procedures. Assembly Bill 255 states:

This bill creates a requirement for hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, or any other places where surgical procedures are performed (surgical facilities) to offer surgical patients the option to have their surgical procedures videotaped. Surgical facilities must provide notice of the option and all related procedures and conditions set forth in the bill. For purposes of this bill, a surgical procedure is one for which a patient is given a general anesthetic.

Representative Sinicki named the bill “Julie’s Law” to honor Julie Ayer Rubenzer, a 38-year-old woman who died in 2003. Medical records show that her heart stopped during breast augmentation surgery and that doctors waited several minutes before starting chest compressions. She died three months later. Her family charged the doctor with malpractice, stating that there was no anesthesiologist present and the surgeon had no license in anesthesia.

The bill also allows a physician or certain other individual who holds a valid
license or other credential that allows him or her to perform surgical procedures for
which a patient is under general anesthesia (surgical practitioner) and who is
scheduled to perform a surgical patient’s surgical procedure to request that a
recording be made, and a surgical facility must comply with the request so long as
certain conditions are met, including that the surgical patient or person authorized
by the patient does not object. Under the bill, in certain limited emergency
circumstances, surgical facilities are not required to provide the option of recording.

Opponents of the bill include the Wisconsin Medical Society and the Wisconsin Hospital Association. See Assembly Bill 255,  “Relating to video recording of surgical procedures, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, granting rule-making authority, requiring the exercise of rule-making authority, and providing penalties” here.

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