Is It Time In America for the Surgical Black Box?

Author: Wade Ayer
Created: 12 February, 2018
Updated: 17 October, 2022
4 min read

“Yes” or “No”?

Should it be the patient's right (by law) to have their surgery recorded by audio and video?


Do doctors found guilty of medical malpractice need to be held criminally responsible if someone is injured or killed in their care? Do hospitals and doctors need to be held more accountable for medical malpractice?

A new Wisconsin bill, which allows patients the option to have their surgery recorded by audio and/or video (also referred to as the "Surgical Black Box"), is now ground zero of a new movement, and it’s getting lots of attention as far as Germany after a nurse was convicted of murdering 6 people, and charged with the murder of an additional 97.

One Wisconsin man wants to revolutionize medical laws across America. His name is Wade Ayer, and this is how he got here.

On September 25, 2003, Wade Ayer’s sister, Julie Ayer Rubenzer, walked into The Cosmetic Surgery Center in Sarasota, Florida, and was massively overdosed on Propofol. Julie was in a coma for 3 months, and died as a result.

Sixteen months later, the Florida Department of Health conducted a hearing with expert testimony, intending to convince the judge to revoke Dr. Kurt Stephan Dangl’s license.

The State of Florida eventually revoked Dangl’s license, but Ayer was very confused. Why wasn’t Dangl prosecuted at all?!

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The judge’s recommended order showed that:

1. Kurt Dangl did not hire an anesthesiologist, had no certification to deliver level three anesthesia, and did not have an anesthesiologist nurse. This is against Florida State Medical Law!

Julie Rubenzer received a cocktail of drugs, including 1600 mg. of Propofol. This is 5 to 6 times the recommended dosage for her body size.

Wade Ayer learned when talking to the state prosecuting attorney in Sarasota, Karen Fraivilig, that state medical laws are not binding with criminal law.

Ayer said:

"The state's attorney told me that all Kurt Dangl did was break medical law, or administrative law, which is not criminal law. All Kurt Dangl did was break professional code. The medical law is not binding with criminal law anywhere in the United States. And the state did not prosecute because the negligence was not culpable. This was an outrage; an abomination."

This was the catalytic moment when Ayer knew that the medical laws and criminal laws were not in touch with the rest of the world!

2. Julie Rubenzer stopped breathing, had a heart attack, flatlined on the monitor, and the nurse and surgical tech sounded that Ms. Rubenzer coded.

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The surgical technician stated, ”Chest compressions are needed.” And yet, another 5 to 6 minutes went by before Dangl would allow chest compressions. Most professionals will state that this timeframe was far past the standard of care.

This prompted Ayer to begin asking this question to society: ͞"How reckless does a doctor have to be before it is criminal?”

3. Dangl had an employee, Michelle Purdy (who is not a licensed medical person), take Julie’s pulse. She used her thumbs during the flatlining crisis. This action is criminal by allowing someone to practice medicine without a license.

And yet Dangl never faced one criminal charge in Julie’s surgery and death.

Time and time again the State Attorney's Office said, “The negligence was not culpable (i.e. no intent to cause harm), therefore her death was deemed accidental.”

Julie Ayer Rubenzer’s family is incensed. Her father, Don Ayer, recorded each event in that case and published it.

“Given the evidence, and that this case was not prosecuted, they won’t prosecute any reckless malpractice death anywhere unless it's famous like the Michael Jackson case,” says Don Ayer.

So Wade Ayer started a Facebook Page called the “National Organization for Medical Malpractice Victims.” This forum was created to bring together victims, families of victims, doctors, and all medical industry workers so they could hear each other's stories and improve the status quo.

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But what Ayer learned was staggering. After hearing story after story (even from doctors in confidentiality), he realized that there were a lot of dysfunctional scenarios of medical behavior and that laws were going to be needed at the state and federal levels. This would help reduce incidents of medical malpractice, including in VA hospitals.

“I must change this. I do not want to see another family have to endure this sad reality,” said Wade Ayer.

And the quest of the “Surgical Black Box” began!

Photo Credit: gpointstudio / shutterstock.com