Da Vinci Surgical Robot

medical malpractice 2When the FDA granted approval in 2000 for the da Vinci Surgical Robot, technology entered the surgery room in a brand new way. The manufacturer, California-based Intuitive Surgical, called the da Vinci “state-of-the-art robotic technology,” and claimed that the robot “enables surgeons to perform delicate and complex operations through a few tiny incisions with increased vision, precision, dexterity and control.”

Only a few years after the robot hit the market, however, patients reported complications with da Vinci robotic surgery, including perforated, torn, and burned internal organs. An injured patient was likely to file a da Vinci robot lawsuit, seeking to hold Intuitive Surgical liable for failing to warn doctors and hospitals of the serious risks.

Patients who underwent surgery with the da Vinci robot and suffered injuries may benefit from consulting New York medical malpractice lawyers. A successful surgical negligence lawsuit can help recover damages and help pay for medical expenses, therapies, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

What is the da Vinci robot?

The FDA approved the da Vinci robot for certain types of surgeries, with the main goal being to allow a less invasive procedure with increased precision. Benefits to the patient may include smaller incisions, less blood loss, and faster recovery time. The machine has four interactive robotic arms that are controlled by the surgeon from a console. Three of the arms hold objects and act as instruments, including a scalpel, scissors, and electrocautery tools. The fourth is an endoscopic camera with two lenses.

Patients may be candidates for da Vinci robotic surgery include those who are undergoing procedures for:

  • Coronary artery disease
  • Hysterectomy
  • Throat cancer
  • Gastric bypass
  • Heavy uterine bleeding
  • Obesity surgery
  • Endometriosis
  • Prostate removal
  • Kidney cancer and other kidney disorders
  • Gall bladder removal 

Allegations raised in a da Vinci robot lawsuit

Most davinci robot lawsuits filed around the country claim that the doctors using the technology were not adequately trained. According to a May 4, 2010 Wall Street Journal article, surgeons themselves note that it takes a lot of practice to gain skill on da Vinci robot, yet Intuitive Surgical pays for only a two-day training course for just two surgeons at each hospital. To receive more training, the hospital needs to pay more. The machine itself costs $1 to $2.5 million for the initial purchase, and about $140,000 per year more in annual maintenance.

The Reviews in Urology journal noted that a surgeon must perform up to 200 cases to be proficient in da Vinci robotic surgery, while surgeons who have become adept at the technology estimate that number to be up to 700 cases. Yet many hospitals don’t get close to performing that many surgeries per year, and some allow doctors to use the da Vinci robot without supervision after just a few training cases.

Injuries possible with da Vinci robotic surgery

Complications and injuries associated with da Vinci robotic surgery can be serious and difficult to treat. Plaintiffs who’ve filed Davinci robot lawsuits have reported the following:

  • Punctured blood vessels or cut ureters
  • Severe bowel injuries
  • Tears and/or burns of the intestines or uterus
  • Vaginal cuff dehiscence (complication of total hysterectomy)
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Death

Injured patients who are represented by New York medical malpractice lawyers are likely to claim that Intuitive Surgical over-promoted the device, telling hospitals that purchasing one was a means to increase revenues and market shares. According to some recent studies, however, da Vinci robotic surgery may not be any better than traditional surgery options.

Questionable benefits of robotic surgery

A recent report by Citron Research concluded there is no benefit to using the da Vinci robot system in gynecological or prostate surgeries. They added that da Vinci prostatectomies are substantially more expensive than traditional surgeries, yet they show no scientific evidence of improved outcomes.

The American Institute of Gynecologic Laparascoptists in May 2012 stated that patients fared just as well with traditional vaginal hysterectomies as they did with da Vinci hysterectomies, yet the robotic surgery adds costs, requires more anesthesia, and puts patients at risk of additional injury. A study published in 2011 by Johns Hopkins researchers found that some hospitals could be misleading patients about the benefits of robotic surgery, even though there exists little scientific evidence of better outcomes.

“Robotic surgery is clearly associated with higher costs, without any clear advantages,” Dr. Jason Wright, a gynecologic surgeon at Columbia University in New York, told Reuters Health.

“Technologies are being adopted and becoming widespread based on the marketing prowess of equipment makers and suppliers,” Paul Levy, chief executive of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told the Wall Street Journal, “not necessarily on the public good.”  To date, the FDA has received over 4,600 adverse event reports related to da Vinci robotic surgery.

Recent da Vinci robot lawsuits

While the Citron report predicts that new sales of the da Vinci robot will flat line as more patients and doctors become aware of the risks, Intuitive Surgical is facing a growing number of davinci robot lawsuits. Some of the claims include:

  • In a New York surgical negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges the robot contains design flaws, including un-insulated surgical arms and the use of an electric current that can jump to healthy internal organs and tissue, causing serious burns to blood vessels, organs, and other tissues.
  • In another da Vinci robot lawsuit, the plaintiffs state that when the electrical current jumped from the da Vinci robot during a hysterectomy on a 24-year-old woman, it burned her intestines and arteries, causing death.
  • In a February 2012 robotic surgery lawsuit, the family of a man whose lower intestine was punctured during a spleen operation was awarded $7.5 million in damages—the doctor in the case testified it was the first time he had used the new technology on a live patient.

New York medical malpractice lawyers can help

Plaintiffs filing a da Vinci robot lawsuit claim that the manufacturer’s aggressive marketing techniques were unethical, that the device itself is defective, and that Intuitive Surgical failed to provide adequate surgeon training.

In light of the increasing number of patient complaints and botched surgeries, doctors and patients are reconsidering the benefits of da Vinci robotic surgery. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a da Vinci robot injury or death, the New York medical malpractice lawyers at The Sanders Firm can help.

We understand your rights in a medical negligence and/or personal injury case, and can help you navigate the legal pathway as you and your family get on the road to recovery. Please call us toll-free to schedule your free consultation and learn more about filing a New York surgical negligence lawsuit. 1-800-FAIR-PLAY ( 800.324.7752)