In the context of airplanes and motor vehicles, a “black box” is a device that records data at the time of an accident or crash. In the case of cars or trucks, often these devices record things like speed, acceleration and deceleration, whether brakes were applied, whether seat belts were in use and steering angle. In the case of planes, these devices record flight data such as altitude and airspeed. By retrieving and analyzing the data recorded on these black boxes, investigators are better able to determine how or why a crash or accident occurred.

Now, researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a similar device to be used by physicians during surgery. According to a recent article in, this surgical black box tracks a surgeon’s actions during surgery and records any errors. As with plane and car black boxes, which help show what happened during a crash or accident, the purpose of these devices is to collect data during surgery that would subsequently help show why the patient had a poor outcome.

Collecting this data would allow researchers to analyze why surgical errors occur in an effort to prevent future mistakes during surgery. The device is still in its initial phase, having been used in only about 40 surgeries, all of them laparoscopic weight-loss procedures. However, reports that a number of hospitals have already expressed interest in the device, including several in the United States.

Could this be the future of surgical error prevention? Only time will tell. If you or a loved one has been affected by a surgical error, contact Stark & Stark today for a free consultation.