Doctor who Performed Da Vinci Robotic Surgery had One Day’s Training Prior to Patient’s Death

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May 7, 2013 – Last week, a urologist testified that he only received one day of training from Intuitive Surgical before being officially qualified to perform a complicated procedure involving the da Vinci Surgical Robot. The testimony came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Fred Taylor, who allegedly died as a result of complications sustained from the da Vinci Robot. The landmark case is the first to go to trial among a growing number of similar complaints filed in courthouses around the county on behalf of individuals who allegedly suffered adverse health complications following robotic surgery with the da Vivci system.

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.

What’s the Problem?

According to allegations raised in the new da Vinci Robot Lawsuit, Intuitive failed to properly train surgeons how to use the device, and irresponsibly promoted their product without providing adequate warnings about the risk of potential complications.

Surgeon Scott Bildsten testified to a Washington state jury that while he had conducted approximately 100 traditional prostatectomies, he had never performed an unassisted robotic procedure before the one he did on Fred Taylor. Intuitive trained him on the da Vinci Robot for one day, and then oversaw him on two assisted surgeries, before they qualified him as ready to start operating on patients by himself.

Following the 2008 robotic prostatectomy performed by Bildsten, Taylor suffered a number of severe health complications including:

  • kidney damage
  • lung damage
  • incontinence
  • sepsis
  • stroke
  • multiple heart attacks

Intuitive argued that there is no evidence linking Taylor’s complications and eventual death to the use of the da Vinci robot, and that he was obese and in poor health before undergoing the procedure.

The da Vinci robotic system features a control panel where a surgeon can see a virtual reality image of the patient’s internal organs, and manipulate the device’s metal arms with hand and foot controls. However, the machine is extremely complicated and requires extensive training to obtain basic competency in use of the device, according to the complaint. The lawsuit brought by Taylor’s family is just one of a growing number of similar complaints filed in courthouses around the country on behalf of patients who allegedly suffered serious injuries after undergoing surgery with the da Vinci Robot. However, this is the first such lawsuit to be heard before a jury.

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