Da Vinci Robot lawsuits involving injuries allegedly caused by the da Vinci Surgical Robot continue to mount in courthouses around the country. The device, which is designed to facilitate complex surgery using a minimally invasive approach, has been associated with injuries to internal organs including the liver, rectum, spleen and heart. Additionally, the da Vinci Surgical System has been linked to more than 70 deaths since 2009.
Da Vinci Robot Update 5/9/14: After a warning from the FDA about the risk of developing cancer from power morcellators during uterine fibroid removal, it is expected that the use of da Vinci Surgical Robots during these operations will decrease. Robotic hysterectomies are one of the most common uses for the da Vinci Robot, where the device assists in surgery to remove the uterus.
Da Vinci Robot Recall March 25, 2014: Intuitive Surgical has issued a nationwide recall for certain cannulae components used with the da Vinci Robot, due to the risk that the parts may be damaged during use and could be hard to replace. To date, at least one patient has experienced injuries that may have been caused by a damaged cannula, which occurred when the tube rotated and punctured the patient’s abdomen.
How Does the Da Vinci Surgical Robot Work?
In July 2000, the FDA approved the da Vinci Surgical System for laparoscopic procedures, making it the first robotic system to be used in American operating rooms. The device is designed to allow the human surgeon to get closer to the surgical site than would normally be possible, and work at a smaller scale than traditional surgical methods permit. The da Vinci Surgical Robot consists of a viewing and control console, and a surgical arm that includes three or four arms (depending on the model). In the first years after it was introduced, the robot was used primarily in gynecological surgeries, but has since been increasingly used in prostate and gallbladder removals, as well as heart surgery, hysterectomies and prostatectomies.
Da Vinci Robot Complications
Unfortunately, problems with the da Vinci Surgical System, including potential design flaws and a failure by the manufacturer to provide adequate training on use of the device, have led to numerous injuries in patients. Da Vinci Robot complications have been reported to include:
- Surgical Burns to Arteries or Organs
- Peritonitis (painful and tender inflammation of the lining of the abdomen)
- Excessive bleeding
- Burning of nearby organs including the intestines
- Punctured blood vessels, organs or arteries
- Burns and/or tears of the intestines
- Severe bowel injuries
- Punctured or cut ureters
- Vaginal cuff dehiscence (reopening of the incision made to remove the uterus and cervix during a hysterectomy)
- Additional Surgical Procedures Following Robot Surgery
- Wrongful Death
Recent studies have suggested that surgeons may require as many as 200 procedures before they become proficient with the da Vinci Surgical System, which means that during the lengthy learning period, many patients will experience undesirable outcomes that are inferior to what might have otherwise occurred with an experienced surgeon. Da Vinci Robot Lawsuits allege that physicians were not adequately trained on proper use of the device, which may increase the risk of complications and injuries to patients.
Robotic Surgery Hysterectomy
Intuitive Surgical, the company that manufactures and markets the da Vinci System, has stated that women who undergo a robotic hysterectomy will experience significant benefits including shorter recovery times, less blood loss, and less time in the hospital. Yet a growing number of lawsuits filed in courthouses around the country claim that rather than benefiting from the technology, patients suffered serious, life-threatening side effects following a da Vinci surgery robot hysterectomy. According to the lawsuits, victims of botched da Vinci hysterectomies often are forced to undergo emergency surgical intervention to correct damage allegedly caused by the device. In a number of cases, patients have found that their quality of life has been permanently diminished due to their complications.
Da Vinci Prostatectomy
Prostatectomy is the removal of all or part of the prostate gland, and is performed on men with prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate. In a da Vinci prostatectomy, the prostate is removed by four remote-controlled arms and an advanced camera to operate through small incisions. According to the manufacturer, the da Vinci Surgical System gives the doctor greater precision and visibility throughout the procedure. However, a 2010 study published in the New York Times found that robotic surgery prostatectomy might lead to more impotence and incontinence than traditional operating procedures. According to the report, It is also not clear that robot-assisted prostate surgery gives better, worse or equivalent long-term cancer control than traditional methods of treatment.
Click here to learn more about da Vinci Robot complications from the New York Times.
Surgical Robots Linked to 144 Deaths: Study
Since 2000, at least 144 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries have been linked to robotic surgeries, according to a new study (PDF) conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. The study found robotic surgery complications occurring as the result of broken instruments falling into patients’ bodies, electrical sparks causing tissue burns and system errors forcing procedures to take longer than anticipated.