Should they be allowed in the operating room or not?

Photo by Notebookaktuell

The technology at our disposal is growing faster and faster, and we’re basically coming to a point where science fiction is becoming the new hot gadget. Take for example Google Glass; a wearable computer that takes voice commands, records and plays video, and can even connect to the Internet. We’re in Jetsons territory, folks.

Undeniably, this new technology could prove useful in the operating room – a cosmetic surgeon could summon pertinent facts about his patient’s medical history without halting the procedure, instead of putting everything on hold and looking them up on a monitor. He could even live stream the operation, for educational purposes.

But, should he?

The main concern surrounds patient privacy. “Obviously, the one of the MAIN concerns regarding the use of Google Glass during surgery, with live streaming of data, would be to take every measure and to ensure the privacy of the patient’s health information,” says Dr. Rafael J. Grossmann in this blog post.

“That’s exactly what I did.”

Recently, Dr. Grossmann live streamed an endoscopy using the Google Glass technology. He obtained consent, and took precautions to ensure nothing that could give away the identity of the patient who was filmed. But regardless of extra measures taken, with the internet, there’s more room for error.

“Not everyone has the same stake as the physician does — a staffer with a vendetta or a carelessly posted video can be not only unethical, but also illegal,” says surgeon David B. Reath, MD, of Knoxville, Tenn. “Patient privacy is not only a moral issue; it’s a legal one, and that’s going to be a difficult line to walk for some people.”

Google Glass is still in its infancy – basically a prototype – you’re unlikely to run across it when going in for a bit of Botox or liposuction. It also means there’s quite some time before these questions and concerns will be answered definitively. One way or another, though, the field of cosmetic surgery can and will have to adapt to new technology as the field evolves.