MADISON, Wis. - Rep. Christine Sinicki formally introduced a bill Thursday that would allow patients to request audio and visual recordings of their surgical procedures.
"This bill just allows the opportunity to record procedures to either identify possible human error or potentially protect medical professionals by demonstrating that they did nothing wrong," Sinicki said.
Advocates argue that other professions where lives are at stake use cameras for security purposes, and the medical field shouldn't be any different. For example, police officers wear body cameras and airplanes have "black boxes."
The bill is being called "Julie's Law" to honor Julie Ayer Rubenzer, a 38-year-old woman who died in 2003. Her family said medical malpractice led to her death.
"My mom and dad are very heartbroken," said her brother, Wade Ayer. "Me too. There's a sense of loss in the system."
Rubenzer underwent a breast augmentation surgery in Florida in 2003. Hearing records show she flat-lined, and doctors waited several minutes before starting chest compressions. She was flown back to Waukesha, where she died three months later.
"The doctor had no license in anesthesia," her brother said. "He was required by state medical law to have an anesthesiologist present. He decided knowingly and conscientiously to bypass this and operate."
He teamed up with Sinicki to create the bill. She introduced similar legislation in 2015, but six state medical organizations registered against it.
Bud Chumbley, CEO of the Wisconsin Medical Society, said he doesn't see a point in the measure.
"It changes the whole milieu of what's going on in the operating room, which is already a somewhat high-stress situation," Chumbley said. "It seems to me for no good reason since we have high quality already."
On Nov. 27, the Wisconsin Hospital Association sent a memo to state lawmakers urging them not to co-sponsor the bill. The memo said Ayer's case originated in another state.
In a statement to News 3, WHA Vice President Ann Zenk said, "Now comes an ill-conceived proposal that could harm the relationship between the patient and the health care provider. Improving the quality and safety of care will hardly be furthered by this legislation, and it may, in fact, do just the opposite."
The bill would fine health care providers up to $25,000 for refusing to comply.
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