While robotic medical device manufacturers are often responsible for surgical errors, surgeons often share in the responsibility when unexpected complications arise. Such lawsuits may be the focus of both product liability and medical malpractice claims.
How Medical Negligence Due To Robotic Surgery Arises?
Improper operation or outright carelessness by a physician may cause the severing of vital organs, such as blood vessels, ureters and the intestines. Using the da Vinci Surgical System Robot (manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, Inc., in Sunnyvale, CA) creates risks as doctors are not being adequately trained by the company. Questions are arising as to how well doctors are trained on these complicated machines before they regularly perform surgeries with them.
Medical Malpractice suits involving Intuitive Surgical Robotic Devices may allege:
- Vaginal cuff dehiscence
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Organ puncture
- The careless and negligent use of the da Vinci Robotic Surgical device
- Tears of the intestines, blood vessels or ureters
- The incorrect and catastrophic removal of limbs and organs
Robotic Surgery and Bowel Evisceration
The manufacturer of the da Vinci robotic medical device, Intuitive Surgical, Inc., advertises and promotes the device as a safe alternative to traditional hysterectomies, urethral and other gynecological surgeries. Unfortunately, poor design, lack of training and physician error have led to serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries.
If a surgeon notices a bowel injury during surgery, he or she can usually fix the problem with no complications. Often, however, the injury goes unnoticed until days after the initial surgery. The patient may suffer abdominal pain, infection, diarrhea, and require additional surgeries. In extreme cases, death can occur from the injury or resulting complications.
Our firm will consider filing a claim against the surgeon for improperly handling the da Vinci device, or a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Robotic Hysterectomy Injuries
The most common complications resulting from robotic-assisted hysterectomies are:
- Accidental burning of tissues
- Tears in organ tissue or blood vessels
- Uncontrolled bleeding resulting from nicks and tears
Unfortunately, many of these injuries go unnoticed during the surgery. The patient may suffer a prolonged and complicated recovery, and may need additional surgery to heal the injury. In extreme cases, the injury can lead to death.
Robotic Radical Prostatectomy
Radical prostatectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the prostate or surrounding tissues. It is usually performed on those suffering from prostate cancer. Depending on the severity of the illness, a patient may need to undergo standard surgery. However, many radical prostatectomy surgeries can be performed with minor incisions, using a robotic-medical device. These robotic surgeries are often less evasive and bring the promise of an easier recovery. Unfortunately, robotic-assisted surgeries have also been the cause of several injuries, and in some instances, wrongful death.
There have been several reported problems associated with these devices, including:
- Failure to properly train surgeons on using the device
- Insufficient insulation, allowing electricity to escape from the machine to other parts of the body
- High-heat energy causing burns and other injuries
These issues may result in damage to the urethra, severe infections, pain, erectile dysfunction, and other complications. Patients can find themselves enduring one or more additional surgeries to correct the robotic injury.
Vaginal Cuff Dehiscence
Vaginal cuff dehiscence refers to the separation of a vaginal incision, usually after a hysterectomy or other gynecological surgery. Complications may include excessive bleeding and bowel evisceration. Both of these could lead to death in serious cases.
Robotic Surgery: A Controversial History
Robotic surgery dates back decades, when it was used to guide surgeons during complicated and invasive procedures. A number of companies were initially involved in the development of robotic medical devices, but Intuitive Surgical with their da Vinci Surgical System is now the primary company developing and marketing devices for robot-assisted surgery.
Now that the device is being used more widely, patients are being put in harm's way by an insufficiently tested device, being operated by surgeons who are not always experienced enough to operate the da Vinci safely. Some surgeons have stated they felt they needed 15 to 20 patient surgeries before feeling comfortable using the device. Other surgeons have stated anywhere between 250 to 500 surgeries are needed before a surgeon is truly experienced in using the device.
To date there have been hundreds of adverse event reports filed involving the da Vinci surgical system, and the number of surgical errors involving the da Vinci cannot be accurately quantified. What is certain is that if this device is being controlled by an insufficiently trained surgeon the result can be unexpected, dangerous injuries.
Contact Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Our attorneys have successfully handled numerous lawsuits and have won many verdicts and settlements for people who have suffered during a surgery which included the use of computerized equipment. We offer our clients personal, attentive and individualized service from a skilled team of attorneys.
If you need medical malpractice legal help anywhere in the United States, contact a Robotic Malpractice lawyer at Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold & Giuffra LLP. We offer free initial consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. To contact a lawyer, call 888-335-9457.