Surgical Robotic System
Da Vinci Robotic Surgery Lawsuits: Important Facts And Information
There have been numerous lawsuits over the years investigating potential harm caused by the Da Vinci Surgical Robot. The robot is manufactured by a U.S. company known as Intuitive Surgical Inc. The first ever Da Vinci Robot was made in year 2000.
Although the robot has been used successfully in the U.S. and many other parts of the world to perform numerous surgical procedures i.e. hysterectomies, prostate removal surgeries, thyroid cancer surgeries, gastric bypasses and gall bladder removals just to mention a few surgical procedures, there have been a number of Da Vinci robotic hysterectomy surgery lawsuits where the robot is alleged to have caused serious injury/suffering in patients.
Some of the most common suits that have come up over the years revolve around damage or injuries such as; surgical burns to organs and arteries, excessive bleeding as a result of punctured blood vessels/arteries/organs, severe bowel injuries, punctured/cut ureters and vaginal cuff dehiscence. In a few severe cases, the machine has been alleged to cause wrongful death.
There has been at least one plaintiff who alleged that the robot is defectively designed. There are many lawsuits which have alleged that many doctors lack proper training to use the robot effectively.
Critics of the Robot have also criticized how the robot was marketed initially implying that the robot was solely meant to increase revenues for hospitals. Before looking at some of the main suits to ever take place, let’s first discuss the robot briefly.
The Da Vinci Surgical Robot
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge the size of the Da Vinci. The robot is massive machine. The robot is also operated remotely by a surgeon/s via a console with controls which resemble joysticks. The robot was designed to perform a wide range of movements surpassing the capability of the human hand.
This allows the robot to perform numerous surgical operations with minimal intrusions. For instance, the robot can perform numerous abdominal surgeries without minimal stomach opening.
During typical robotic procedures, the robotic arms are strategically placed to burn away a patient’s tissues so that the diseased body organ can be removed. The robot is preferred because it performs less invasive surgery which minimizes blood loss, scarring and promotes faster recovery. One of these machines costs over $1 million.
It is however important to note that despite the high cost, hospitals haven’t been scared of from buying the robot. Although the robot was designed with safety in mind, there are numerous lawsuits which have arose from surgeries gone bad. Below is a summary of the main lawsuits.
Top Da Vinci Robotic Surgery Lawsuits
One of the earliest lawsuits dates back to December 2003. The lawsuit was filed in Florida by a window of teacher after a doctor at the St Joseph’s Hospital (located in Tampa) accidentally cut the aorta and vena cava of the widow’s husband using the Robot while attempting to remove the victim’s cancerous kidney.
The lawsuit claimed that St Joseph’s Hospital allows the surgery to be performed by inexperienced doctors compromising the safety of the patient.
Another notable lawsuit was filed in may 2010 when Sherry Long; a 47 year old woman sued Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in New Hampshire for allegedly severing her ureters during a hysterectomy procedure performed on her by the Da Vinci Robot on 2nd March 2009. The suit alleged that the injury was caused by surgeons who were poorly trained on how to use the Da Vinci Robot.
One of the most recent and notable cases dates back to March 2012. A New York man filed a lawsuit in New York State’s South District claiming that the use the robot had caused medical complications and the eventual death of his 24 year old daughter. The man had taken his daughter for a hysterectomy in a New York hospital.
The suit claimed the robot had caused artery and intestinal burns which caused the victim’s death 2 weeks after surgery.
The suit went further to claim that the woman’s injuries resulted from design flaws of the Da Vinci including un-insulated surgical arms as well as the use of electric current which can easily jump to healthy organs and tissues causing serious burns and damage.
This lawsuit is undoubtedly one of the first lawsuits alleging that the Da Vinci robot has design defects.