Video technology in the operating theatre: impact on clinical practice and potential for social research

Today many surgical operations are performed through natural openings or small incisions in the patient’s body. Key to these so-called ‘minimally invasive’ operations is the laparoscope, that is, the video camera that is inserted in the body cavity. The view that is picked up by the laparoscope is magnified on screens around the operating table and used by surgeons to perform the operation. In this talk for Queen Mary University’s Technology, Health and Society Forum I explore a) how the use of this video technology shapes social interaction in the operating theatre and b) how recordings produced by this video technology might be used to address substantive questions about surgical education and patient safety. To illustrate this I will show and discuss small clips from laparoscopic videos obtained in a major teaching hospital in London in the context of a large research and research methods development project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

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