During the process of robotic surgery, including the DaVinci Robot, a doctor controls a surgical device or machine that assists with the surgery based on the doctor’s controls; although many people tout the use of these devices, the possibility of malpractice during this type of surgery is certainly present. According to a study by researchers from MIT, Rush University Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 10,000 incident reports from the FDA ranging from 2000 to 2013 were analyzed and researchers discovered that robots were involved in 144 patient deaths and 1,391 patient injuries.
Examples of the types of mechanical errors that occurred deal with burnt or broken pieces of tools falling into the patient, electrical sparking, and accidental movements from the robots. Other issues can occur, such as the doctor’s inability to properly operate the robotic device, using the robotic device on the incorrect body part, the doctor’s misreading of what the robot’s camera sees which could lead to using the wrong process for treating the patient, or improper maintenance of the robotic device leading to malfunction. More errors were reported in complex cardiothoracic and head and neck surgeries, as opposed to gynecology and urology procedures where the robots were noted to perform well.
How can you protect yourself if you are recommended to have a robotic assisted surgery? It is helpful to perform a full evaluation of how well a doctor can handle a robotic surgery, including asking the doctor how many of these procedures they have done in the past and how those surgeries went. Discuss the potential risks in great detail with your doctor and don’t be afraid to ask any questions.
Perform your own research about the type of robotic device that the doctor is recommending for your surgery. The world is always changing and evolving, and it is possible for these types of surgeries to increase quickly. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, some forecasters predict that robotics, automation and artificial intelligence will soon overwhelm the job market, which means that we need to stay informed about these unique types of surgeries.
If you or a loved one have suffered from an injury or death as a result of a robotic assisted surgery, please call my office for a free consultation.