Surgeons have been testing and using robotic devices to assist them in surgery. Increasingly, these robotic devices are performing the actual work while a surgeon is dictating and monitoring the movements. The benefit is that the surgery is possibly less invasive and the patient will have a shorter recovery time. Hospitals can accommodate more patients with less space and patients save money by having fewer hospital stays. Physicians have noted that, in some instances, the use of a robot is actually easier than performing an open procedure.
Even so, some patients are a little squeamish about such technology. There have been an increasing number of complaints made to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding injury and death from the use of such devices in surgeries. Recent studies show a double digit percentage increase in the number of adverse consequences across many types of surgeries from the use of these devices.
The main device at issue is da Vinci robot, a $2 million device that has been successfully used in thousands of procedures. One of the issues is that there is a lack of national or standard training for doctors on the device. Also noted is that the camera for the device has a limited field of vision that may impact patient safety. There are additional concerns that there is pressure to use the device once a hospital has invested such a steep price in obtaining it.
Adding to the liability of the device, the maker, Intuitive Surgical, admitted that injuries and deaths attributed to the use of the robot have not been reported to the FDA. At this point, there is no knowledge of whether any corrective measures have been taken by the company.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has weighed in on this issue. They acknowledge that new technology will increase complication rates, even with the most skilled surgeons. They have also found that there is no evidence that robot-assisted surgery produces better results than traditional surgery or surgery with existing technology. As a result, the organization cannot unequivocally recommend robot-assisted procedures over what is currently available.
Loved ones of those experiencing injury or death should seek legal advice immediately. It is important to obtain any medical records of the procedure to document how the surgery was performed. It is also important to obtain the background experience of the physician performing that procedure. Of course, obtaining this information beforehand is helpful to avoid the pain of a possible injury later.
This article is for general informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice. Do not rely on the above information as all cases are different and different laws apply to different cases. Consult an attorney in your area for further guidance.