Are robotic surgeries as safe as they are marketed to be?

Robotic surgeries are used by many hospitals but there have been many concerns raised over the errors that they have caused.

While in the past, a human surgeon would remove an appendix, treat cancer or fix a damaged heart, many of these surgical procedures are now being taken over by a robotic surgical system. For people living in Rhode Island, the concept of technology entering the medical world is one that is thought of as a progressive step in improving patient care. However, some believe that these robotic surgeries are not as safe as they are purported to be.

Increasing popularity

According to AARP, surgical robots were originally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for procedures that involved small incisions and were minimally invasive. However, since their introduction, every year the number of robotic surgeries grows by 30 percent. Hospitals have purchased around 2,000 surgical robots in the past 10 years and that number is expected to grow as they are cleared to perform additional types of surgeries.

Rising concerns

Despite their increasing popularity, robotic surgeries are not without risks. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality states that these include the following:

  • Nerve palsies from the robotic arms causing direct nerve compression
  • Burns from energy source
  • Tissue damage
  • Bleeding
  • Infection

One man had to be hospitalized longer and was required to undergo additional surgeries when a robotic procedure damaged one of his pelvis arteries. The man was undergoing an operation to remove his prostrate as part of his treatment for localized prostate cancer.

The New York Times reports that at least 71 deaths and 174 injuries have been reported to the FDA over a 12-year period - all connected to the da Vinci surgical robot system. However, it is suspected that there are many more events involving the surgery robot which have gone unreported. One example is a woman who filed a lawsuit after she had to have additional surgery to repair damage to her rectum and colon. The damage had been caused during her initial 11-hour surgery to treat endometriosis with a surgical robot. That case, however was never submitted to the FDA by the hospital or the manufacturer of the robot, which stated it was unaware of the event.

Seeking financial justice

Hospitals and medical professionals have a duty to provide patients with the best care possible. When people in Providence have been injured, the law gives them the right to seek financial justice. Therefore, they may find it helpful to speak with an attorney experienced in handling these types of cases. An attorney can show them what their options are, help them gather supporting documentation and calculate an appropriate amount of compensation to meet their needs.