The da Vinci is a robotic surgical system built by Intuitive Surgical. It is designed to streamline surgeries using a minimally invasive procedure and is controlled by a surgeon from a console several feet away from the patient. Intuitive Surgical markets the da Vinci surgical system as having superior 3D high definition vision that improves patient experiences and outcomes. Each da Vinci robot costs $1.5 million, with an additional cost of $100,000/year in maintenance. With the increasing popularity of the surgical robot, however, concerns have been raised with regard to the surgical systems safety, system training, and the aggressive marketing campaign by Intuitive.
The concerns raised seemed to confirm an investigation by CNBC which included, among other things, interviews, studies, depositions, and internal documents by patients, surgeons, lawyers, and ex-Intuitive employees. The investigation found a (1) dramatic rise in personal injury lawsuits over the past two years; (2) possible inadequate training on the surgical system; and (3) high pressure sales tactics which could potentially put the patient at greater risk of personal injury or even death resulting from use of this medical device.
According to personal injury lawsuits already filed, many of the robotic surgery injuries involve burn injuries including damage to internal organs not being directly operated on. The surgical robotic system functions through the use of an electrical current that runs through the robotic instruments. Stray electrical current and inadequate instrument insulation producing excessive heat are serious risks. Furthermore, many of the injuries occur out of the vision of the surgeon, and may not present until days after the surgery.
Concerns about inadequate training on the surgical robot have been raised. The training for surgeons on the surgical robot normally involves seven hours of surgery usually over a few days on a pig. Then, based on the surgeons own hospital policy, they may be required to perform two to five supervised robotic surgeries before they can perform independently. Because all surgeons are similarly trained on the robotic system, the training does not take into account prior knowledge or ability.
High pressure marketing techniques by Intuitive have been alleged. One issue raised is an increased pressure to switch previously scheduled traditional surgeries to robotic surgeries. Further allegations are that sales representatives attempt to persuade hospitals to decrease the amount of supervised robotic surgeries. Whether or not these allegations are true, it is imperative that hospitals and surgeons review each medical case individually to determine if use of robotic surgery is the best option for the subject patient.
An injury from a robotic system surgery can result from surgeon error and/or a flaw in the robot itself. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or even death after undergoing robotic surgery, contact the knowledgeable New Jersey and Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Galfand Berger in Philadelphia. Our injury attorneys draw upon their years of experience and knowledge to protect our clients’ rights and guide them through the legal process. With offices in Philadelphia, Reading and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, we represent clients throughout the Philadelphia – Harrisburg – Allentown region as well as Southern New Jersey. Call us today at 1-800-222-USWA (8792) to schedule a free consultation or contact us online.