Advances in surgery and the use of robotic technology have lead surgeons in many hospitals to perform intricate and delicate surgeries routinely. In fact, according to one report, surgeries using robots have increased more than 400 percent between 2007 and 2011 in the U.S. Nevertheless, as good as such technology is, it is not without limitations, and can cause serious injury to patients.
Philadelphia residents may find it interesting to learn that the da Vinci system, a robotic surgical piece of equipment that has been on the market for over a decade, has been used in over a million surgical procedures across the nation. However, between 2000 and 2012 thousands of mistakes or mishaps related to the use of the da Vinci system were reported to the FDA. According to the Journal for Healthcare Quality, at least 174 injuries and nearly 71 deaths related to the da Vinci system were reported.
In fact, in March 2009, a woman who was surgically treated for her endometriosis using a robot was taken to the emergency room 10 days following her initial surgery because of a torn colon and rectum. The damage to her rectum and colon occurred during the robotically assisted surgery. Following this adverse outcome, she was hospitalized for nearly five weeks and underwent additional surgeries to repair the damage.
Generally, both the hospital and the manufacturer of the device are required to report any medical device related serious injury or death to the FDA within 30-days of the event. In this case, the hospital where the botched surgery occurred did not submit a report. The manufacturer of the robotic surgical equipment apparently only became aware of the incident after the woman filed a lawsuit. Further, a 2010 study found that nearly 57 percent of surgeons who used the da Vinci system stated experiencing operative malfunctions. Additionally, women were likely to be harmed by the robotic procedure during hysterectomies.
Even though robotically assisted surgeries have been on the market for over a decade, the technology is still very new. For anyone who has suffered serious injury due to robotic surgery or due to a surgical error, may want to contact a Philadelphia surgical errors lawyer to have the specific facts of one’s case evaluated.
Source: The New York Times, “New Concerns on Robotic Surgeries,” Ron Rabin, Sept. 9, 2013