DOCTORS LACK TRAINING IN USING DA VINCI SURGICAL ROBOT

By Thamanna Hussain

The Da Vinci Surgical Robot, manufactured and marketed by Intuitive Surgical, Inc(ISI), has been used in a number of prostate removal surgeries around the country, and is progressively being used to perform other procedures, including gastric bypasses, gall bladder removals, and thyroid cancer surgeries.

Through or firm's litigation, we have reviewed many inquiries where clients have experienced complications. We are litigating claims against ISI, and we sue physicians where appropriate. Through this litigation we have learned how difficult surgery can be while using a robot, especially in more complicated procedures.

Many lawsuits have alleged that doctors lack the training needed to properly use the robot when performing surgeries. After a hospital purchases the Da Vinci robot, ISI only pays for a two-day training course for two surgeons. Experienced robotic surgeons say that it takes at least 200 surgeries to become proficient at the da Vinci and reduce the risks of surgical complications. ISI convinces hospitals that compliance with its "clinical pathways" was all that was required before a doctor could perform robotic surgery on patients without supervision. Through the training program for surgeons, it creates a false sense of confidence for the doctors to use the robotic system.

For a number of cases, doctors were performing with the robotic system for the first time unsupervised, to carry out a prostatectomy after just a few of these training cases. This creates a pressure on surgeons to commit to unsupervised surgeries on live patients before they are competent to do so and endangers the lives of countless patients. Individuals also express concern that ISI has been misleading doctors, and hospitals about the true difficulty of becoming experienced in using the system.

We urge clients to spend time with their surgeons asking about options for traditional forms of surgery. Or, if having robotic surgery, getting honest answers from the surgeon about how many procedures the doctor has done for the exact surgery you are getting.

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