Healthcare News & Insights

Video monitoring increases staff adherence to safety protocols & quality of care

It’s not difficult to imagine scenarios where mistakes could happen in operating rooms (OR). What’s difficult is making sure they don’t happen. Many hospitals have taken steps to prevent errors like improved communication, universal protocols, surgical time outs and safety checklists. But one New York hospital took a major step to prevent OR errors. 

GettyImages-124206010Since 2013, Long Island Jewish Medical Center (LIJ) has had a remote video monitoring system that records surgeries in all 24 of its ORs. Employees of the video monitoring company, located in offsite locations, watch the live feed every two minutes, looking for errors on a checklist that could occur if staff overlook steps in safety protocols.

The monitoring practically provides real-time performance feedback, because data collected by the monitoring employees is streamed to the operating rooms where it can be viewed by the people in charge on their smartphones.

The data is also sent to and can be viewed by monitors in the main hub of the hospital’s surgery department.

Each surgical team can view its performance level and evaluate it against the other teams.

The videos are recorded in a low resolution so it’s nearly impossible to decipher faces, which protects patients’ privacy. However, you can see what’s happening in the room, which helps keep staff accountable.

The one-and-only purpose of the videos is to collect data. After 24 hours the videos are deleted.

Worth the investment

This system wasn’t a cheap fix. To set it up, LIJ spent just over $11,000, and paid $40 per day per operating room to monitor and collect the data. But the hospital found it was well worth the investment.

Compared to what OR mistakes cost hospitals, there’s no contest.

Dr. John DiCapua, chairman of anesthesia at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, Long Island Jewish Medical Center and Northshore University Hospital, headed a study on the remote video monitoring system from 2014 to 2016 and found staff’s ability to adhere to safety guidelines went from 20% to over 90% in just a matter of weeks. The facility had tried other ways of improving staff performance, but none came close to the success of video monitoring.

In an article on, Dr. DiCapua said, “The beautiful thing about video in a timely fashion is it allows you to get a set of powerful data that you can then, as leaders, sit down and make judgments on and understand how to improve.”

Now, the system is being used in the additional areas of the hospital, such as labor and delivery, endoscopy and in the emergency room where equipment is cleaned.

Reduced falls

In 2012, a large Midwestern nonprofit healthcare network implemented a three-month video surveillance pilot program to reduce patient falls and lower costs. Twelve cameras were installed in a high-risk fall unit. For patient privacy the video was live – no recordings were made.

Nursing assistants were trained to observe multiple patients (first six then it changed to nine) from a central location. The video monitors were connected to the nurse call system so the observers could talk to floor staff.

Despite concerns that the video monitoring would lower quality of care due to less one-on-one interaction, and possibly impact nurses’ job security, the program was a success.

In addition to reducing falls, it improved the level of nursing care. With staff no longer being stretch thin checking on their patients every five minutes, they could spend quality time with their patients and get more done. The nurses also noted they felt more relaxed when it came to their high-risk patients, according to an article on Healthcare Facilities Today.

The patients also felt more secure and less anxious with the video monitoring because they knew someone was watching them but it wasn’t a “sitter” in the room with them.

The pilot program was so successful that afterward, the hospital installed cameras in every patient room as part of a $140 million expansion and renovation project.


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