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As hard as it may be to believe, many tech companies are adamant that the next generation of hardware will evolve from laptops, tablets and smartphones to include so-called wearable computers. For example, several companies have already experimented with computers built into watches or even eyeglasses.
Interestingly enough, the most well-known wearable computer — Google Glass — is still not yet available to the public, as the Silicon Valley giant is currently only selling a test version of its computerized glasses to “explorers” willing to pay $1,500 per pair.
These “explorers” are turning out to be more than just computer experts and gadget gurus, however, as many U.S. hospitals are actually purchasing the glasses and making them available to surgeons.
While you may wonder what application Glass may have in the operating room, many surgeons are now praising the eyewear as the wave of the future, allowing them to stream surgeries online across the city, state, country or world, and hold live video consultations with colleagues in the midst of a procedure.
As if this wasn’t impressive enough, these surgeons say that an app can transform the Glass projector — which is situated slightly above the right eye on the inside lens — into a veritable medical dashboard, enabling them to see everything from vital signs and lab results to x-rays and CT scans.
It should be noted, however, that not everyone is on board with making Glass standard equipment in the hospital OR.
Firstly, just like lawmakers and privacy advocates, many in the medical community are concerned about the security of patient information, namely personal data and images being accidently (or intentionally) uploaded to the Internet. Similarly, they are concerned about whether patients are being informed about the use of cameras in the OR beforehand.
Secondly, medical professionals are concerned about the possibility of distraction during surgery. Specifically, the aforementioned Glass projector could conceivably be used for both the Internet and email.
“Being able to see your laparoscopic images when you’re operating face to face instead of looking across the room at a projection screen is just mind-bogglingly fantastic,” said one expert on electronic distractions in the medical realm. “But the downside is you don’t want that same surgeon interacting with social media while he’s operating.”
Finally, medical professionals are concerned about the possibility that the use of Glass could result in a sort of perceptual blindness (i.e., tunnel vision) on the part of a surgeon, meaning they only see the problem as projected on the images directly in front of them and fail to actively look for issues in the surrounding area where they are operating.
For their part, hospitals using Glass have indicated that all the necessary safeguards are in place (secured network, patient consent forms, training, etc.) and that the risks, if any, are minimal.
What are your thoughts on your surgeon wearing Google Glass during your procedure? Are you comfortable with your surgery being filmed? Are you afraid of it being a distraction?
If a surgical error, radiology error or other form of medical malpractice caused you serious and/or irreversible injuries, consider speaking with a dedicated legal professional to learn more about how to hold the responsible parties liable.
Source: The New York Times, “Google Glass enters the operating room,” Anahad O’Connor, June 1, 2015