Safety Concerns Over Robotic Surgery Systems

  • Aug 30 2013
  • Gilleon Law Firm, APC

Sales of new robotic surgery systems by Intuitive Surgical, Inc. have fallen for the first time since 2009, due to concerns over product safety and the level of training provided to surgeons. The Da Vinci machine, which enables surgeons to carry out procedures using remotely controlled surgical tools, costs in excess of $1.5 million, meaning that, on average, hospitals and medical centers do not break even on their outlay until they have used it to perform more than 1,300 procedures over seven years. This has raised concerns that the financial pressure to continue to use the robotic surgery systems relentlessly to cover their cost is jeopardizing patient safety.

Lawsuits against the manufacturer

Some hospitals see the robotic surgery systems as a way to attract new patients, while many surgeons are eager to use any innovative technology in their practice. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reported an increase in the number of negative reports concerning the Da Vinci system. Intuitive Surgical, Inc. has already faced a number of lawsuits concerning its products.

In an ongoing products liability case against the company being heard in the Santa Clara Superior Court, California resident Michelle Zarick underwent a hysterectomy performed by a robotic surgery system, but five weeks later her intestines fell out of her vagina. Ms. Zarick claims that Intuitive Surgical, Inc. failed to inform her of the substantial risks associated with operation performed by the Da Vinci system, suppressed negative reports about its safety, and failed to train their surgeons adequately. Furthermore, she claims that defects in the robot’s design cause patients to suffer post-operative injuries that require further invasive surgery. There are also other cases involving the Da Vinci system. In many of those cases, plaintiffs have chosen to focus on the failures of medical staff to use the machines correctly.

Choose products liability and/or medical malpractice

Patients that suffer adverse experiences when operated on by robotic devices may have a choice whether to pursue the product manufacturer or the medical practitioner, or both. For advice on the merits of your case, call the San Diego personal injury lawyers at the Gilleon Law Firm, APC.

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