Jump to Navigation

Robotic Surgery Injuries Underreported

Photo of Armand Leone

Robotic surgery procedures have increased dramatically since they were first approved by the FDA in 2000, and so have the percentage of patients who have been injured by them. There are 2000 da Vinci systems installed in the US medical facilities today and 367,000 robotic procedures were done in 2012, mostly for gynecologic and urologic procedures with hysterectomies and prostatectomies accounting for the vast majority of cases. But while the percentage increase in the number of surgeries between 2011 and 2012 was 26%, the number of adverse events to patients increased by 34%, with a total of 282 robotic surgery injuries last year. Even more troubling is that a study in the Journal for Healthcare Quality reported that the number of reported injuries in 2012 only represent a small fraction of the actually injuries that occurred. The study found that a number of adverse events were not even reported.

The manufacturer, Intuit Surgical, contends that errors are caused by inexperience surgeons without adequate training. However the numbers of injuries caused by the device are underreported. Micro-cracks in the cautery scissors used to dissect tissue in certain versions of the robot are believed to be responsible for intraoperative burn injuries to internal organs. Many surgeons also believe it is easier to make errors using the robot because of the lack of tactile feedback that makes it impossible for a surgeon to feel how firm the blood vessel or tissue is that is being dissected resulting in accidental severing and tearing.

Robotic surgery costs more but is justified by its proponents on the basis of supposedly better outcomes. However, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in February 2012 reported that the complication rates for robot assisted hysterectomy were the same as with laparoscopic surgery despite its $2,200 greater cost. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology then declared that robotic surgery is not the only or the best minimally invasive approach for hysterectomy, and it is certainly not the most cost efficient. The public has been inundated with marketing that touts the supposed benefits of the da Vinci robot. No doubt the public perception that more sophisticated technology is better technology is played upon by the manufacturer to increase the use of their product. However, the evidence shows that surgical errors with the robot occur at about the same frequency as other more time tested and less expensive surgical techniques. Patients need to question both the need for and the surgeon's experience in performing robotic surgery - newer and more expensive treatment is not always better, even if the insurance company will pay for it.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

"The mission of Britcher Leone, LLC is to unite the professional disciplines of medicine and law to help the victims of physicians' malpractice and serious personal injury restore their future and the future of their families." RSS FindLaw Network
Verdicts & Settlements
  • $1,237,004 Verdict for Failure to Properly Treat
  • $42 Million Dollar Vaccine Injury Structured Settlement
  • $5.7 Million Obstetrical Malpractice Structured Settlement
  • $3.8 Million Present Value Pediatric Urological Surgery Settlement
  • $3.38 Million Gross Medical Malpractice Verdict
  • $1.65 Million Present Value Spinal Surgery Settlement
  • $5.2 Million Obstetrical Malpractice Structured Settlement
  • $40 Million Vaccine Structured Award
  • $19 Million Vaccine Structured Award
  • $2.5 Million Failure to Timely Diagnose Breast Cancer Verdict
  • $16 Million Obstetrical Malpractice Structured Settlement
  • $13.6 Million Obstetrical Malpractice Structured Settlement
  • $3.5 Million Resort Negligence Settlement
  • $60 Million Flu Vaccine Structured Settlement
  • $2 Million Wrongful Birth/Wrongful Life Settlement
  • $3.5 Million Present Value Wrongful Death Settlement
  • $1.59 Million Medical Malpractice Judgment
  • $800,000 Recovery Failure to Treat Eye Infection and Vision Loss
  • $1.35 Million Wrongful Death Settlement
  • $1.2 Million Failure to Provide Adequate Security Settlement
  • $850,000 Settlement for Brachial Plexus/Shoulder Dystocia Injury
  • $1 Million Podiatric Malpractice Judgment
  • $863,000 Orthopedic Malpractice Judgment
  • $850,000 Radiology Malpractice Settlement
  • $800,000 Cardiology Malpractice/Wrongful Death Settlement
View All Verdicts
Google+ LinkedIn Uniting Medicine & Law | Rebuilding Your Future