Surgical videos for accident analysis, performance improvement, and complication prevention: time for a surgical black box?

Surg Innov. 2012 Mar;19(1):76-80. doi: 10.1177/1553350611415424. Epub 2011 Aug 25.


Conventional audit of surgical records through review of surgical results provides useful knowledge but hardly helps identify the technical reasons lying behind specific outcomes or complications. Surgical teams not only need to know that a complication might happen but also how and when it is most likely to happen. Functional awareness is therefore needed to prevent complications, know how to deal with them, and improve overall surgical performance. The authors wish to argue that the systematic recording and reviewing of surgical videos, a "surgical black box," might improve surgical care, help prevent complications, and allow accident analysis. A possible strategy to test this hypothesis is presented and discussed. Recording and reviewing surgical interventions, apart from helping us achieve functional awareness and increasing the safety profile of our performance, allows us also to effectively share our experience with colleagues. The authors believe that those potential implications make this hypothesis worth testing.

MeSH terms

  • General Surgery / education*
  • General Surgery / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Patient Safety
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Research Design
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Videotape Recording*