Don’t Get Burned by the Da Vinci Robot: “Micro-Cracks” in Device May Lead to Electrical Leaks, Increasing Chances of Patient Injury

Robotic surgery is a part of patient vernacular, especially if you live in a large urban area like Dallas. There are countless billboards promoting robotic surgery, and you may have even had a physician suggest a more advanced approach than traditional surgery. While medical technology is advancing at a rapid pace and there have been numerous improvements, newer isn’t necessarily better. There is also increased competition among for-profit hospitals to lure patients into their facilities, offering the “latest and greatest” technologies.

But what you won’t be told is that there have been mounting safety concerns about the da Vinci surgical robot.

Intuitive Surgical marketed this robotic system as an innovative way to perform surgery, but for many patients, minimally invasive surgeries turned out to be major nightmares.

The operative complications have become so widespread that Intuitive was forced to issue an “urgent medical device notification” on May 8th, 2013. In the notification , Intuitive warned that one of the instruments used with the da Vinci robotic system may cause burns while operating inside the patient.

Medical organizations and regulatory authorities are also expressing concerns about the safety of the da Vinci device.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is the preeminent organization fro obstetricians and gynecologists. The da Vinci robot has become very widely used in hysterectomies in recent years, promising the benefit of being “less invasive” and “more precise,” as well as offering “faster recovery” than traditional surgery (da Vinci motto).

Contrary to what advertising has led many women to believe, there is little evidence to show that robot-assisted surgery is better than traditional means of performing a hysterectomy, according to the ACOG (March 2013).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began surveying surgeons in January 2013 about the use of the da Vinci surgical robot, and found some interesting results. Some surgeons being surveyed reported adverse events attributable to the surgeon’s own errors, but in other cases, surgeons claimed “the robot did it.”

Injuries that have been associated with the da Vinci surgical robot include:

  • electrical burns
  • bile duct laceration
  • excessive bleeding
  • damaged blood vessels
  • organ damage
  • nerve injury

In my opinion, you would be well advised to think twice if you are considering undergoing surgery with a da Vinci robot. Like so many things in our society these days, you simply cannot believe the advertising and marketing claims. Intuitive is in the business of selling robots. Hospitals are in the business of bringing in patients to their facility. You are the only person whose sole interest is your won health and safety and you simply must take charge of it.

For more information on robotic surgery injuries, including informative articles and legal resources, click here.
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