Doctor preparing for surgery

The Robot Surgeon: Defective Product Lawsuits

Michael W. Patrick Aug. 13, 2019

For nearly 20 years, surgical robots have been used in hospitals to enhance precision and flexibility in complex procedures. Robot assistance gives the surgical team a high-definition, magnified view of the surgery site, allowing them to view the site as a team and to see things invisible to the naked eye. The benefits of robotic surgery are often laid out by your doctor in-depth, and the possible complications and risks of using robotic-assistance should be explained to the same degree.

Before making any decision about your medical treatment, I believe you deserve to have all of the information available about robot-assisted surgery.

The Age of Surgical Robots

The earliest documented use of a robot-assisted surgery was in 1988. However, it wasn’t until the Da Vinci Surgical Robot came in 2000 that the FDA approved of robot-assisted surgeries. However, the FDA only approved the Da Vinci system for the following:

  • Urological surgeries

  • General laparoscopic surgeries

  • General non-cardiovascular thoracoscopic surgeries

  • Thoracoscopically assisted cardiotomy procedures

With the rapid growth of technology and its role in mainstream society, surgically assisted surgeries are becoming more and more common each year.

Robotic Imperfections

Every new invention has flaws and bugs to be worked out, which would be fair in the case of robotic surgery except the flaws and bugs cause physical harm — sometimes temporary, sometimes permanent. How these incidents are handled have a direct impact on the industry and how the FDA approves these systems and the training required for operators.

According to Business Insider, medical complications arising from Da Vinci surgical robots have doubled each year from 2007 to 2019; an increase of 341 in 12 years.

Complications Caused by Robot-Assisted Surgery

Complications that arise during robot-assisted surgery are not always due to operator error. In fact, problems with the system itself cause some of the most severe injuries. Problems with the system can include design defects and failure to provide proper and adequate training for machine use. More common complications involve:

  • Surgical burns to arteries and/or organs

  • Tears in arteries and/or organs

  • Perforation of arteries and/or organs

  • Additional surgical procedures following robot surgery that were not previously anticipated

Despite reported cases of these scenarios, there is still financial pressure on hospitals and doctors to use robots in surgery. The acquisition of the machinery itself costs the hospital a lot of money, and therefore they feel the need to use the technology in order to balance out that cost.

Considering Robotic Surgery in Chapel Hill, NC?

If your surgeon is suggesting the use of robotic assistance, there are a few things you need to be aware of:

  1. The logic and reason your surgeon is suggesting robotic surgery

  2. The details of the method, the complication rate, and the doctor’s personal robotic-use experience and success rate

  3. Your doctor’s qualifications and training to use the device

  4. Alternative procedures and methods

Having an understanding of your surgeon's reasoning and methods can help you determine whether you agree and are willing to take the risk of surgery or want to further explore your options.

A Medical Product Liability Attorney Can Help

If you have already undergone surgery and there were complications, it may seem like you are no longer in control and that your options are limited. But before you make that determination on your own, talking with a product liability lawyer can help you analyze your situation so you can take control over what happens next. With the help of an attorney, you should:

  1. Make sure you have all pre and post-surgery medical documentation

  2. Request a thorough third-party investigation of the incident

  3. Discuss your legal options in regard to pursuing financial compensation

After liability is established, you can file your case against the responsible party and sue for compensation. You will need an experienced attorney to help you navigate the legalities of filing a claim and to help you fight for the best possible outcome or highest maximum compensation in your case.

Your Chapel Hill, NC Defective Product Attorney

I have been defending consumers’ rights to pursue fair compensation for any injuries sustained from a product for many years. With thorough knowledge and expert skill, I provide counsel and representation centered around one goal: winning your case.

Do not put off getting the legal advice you need to make informed decisions. Call the Law Offices of Michael W. Patrick today!