Robotic Surgery Injuries Lead to Lawsuits

A patient suffering severe vein damage by a surgical robot recently sued the robot’s manufacturer for marketing a defective device and improperly training physicians who use it. Surgical robot injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm detail this case and others like it we are currently handling.

This case was filed by a woman who underwent a myomectomy, a minimally-invasive surgery to remove uterine fibroids. Her surgeon used the da Vinci Surgical System, which is a remotely-controlled robotic system made by Intuitive Surgical. The doctor performed the surgery under the guidance of an Intuitive Surgical representative, Jeanette Lee, who is also named in the suit.

During the procedure the surgeon was having trouble operating the system and asked Lee for permission to switch to a traditional open procedure. Lee instructed the doctor not to switch, which is why she is named in this lawsuit. The patient suffered extensive vein damage during the surgery causing her severe pain and forced additional surgeries.

The patient’s husband claims the defective robot deprived him of consortium of his wife, as she remains disabled and unable to work. The plaintiffs claim Intuitive promotes the da Vinci System to consumers and doctors but has failed to test its long-term impacts. They also claim Intuitive improperly trains doctors on how to use the system, resulting in complications ranging from burns and tears to sepsis, organ damage and even death.

Hundreds of thousands of surgeries are performed using robots every year, with Intuitive enjoying billions in revenue. The company aggressively markets the system, pitting hospitals against each other in a race to score the next ‘it’ innovation. As the da Vinci’s popularity grows, however, so do reports of patients injuries and questions over the system’s actual safety.

Intuitive faces mounting litigation for injuries caused by the da Vinci robots; even the company’s investors have filed suit over a defect in the surgical equipment. Investors claimed the company made false financial reports in failing to warn investors about the defect. The defect caused patients to be electrocuted during surgery.

Intuitive was unaware of the defects until doctors and hospitals started filing reports of patient injuries. The company then issued secret recalls to correct the problems, resulting in an FDA safety probe in January 2013.

Myomectomy Risks

A different federal agency, the FBI, is investigating another medical device manufacturer – Johnson & Johnson – for a different device commonly used in myomectomies. We have written extensively on power morcellators and their ability to spread uterine cancer and we are currently accepting cases of uterine cancer from myomectomies and hysterectomies.

The FBI is investigating what J&J knew about the device’s potential to spread uterine cancer before it announced the global morcellator recall in 2014. This risk was not made public until late 2013, although the company was aware of it much earlier.

The FDA issued a warning in November 2014, stating the vast majority of women should not undergo myomectomies or hysterectomies using morcellators. Many of the nation’s largest hospitals and insurance networks have severely limited the use of morcellators. The device spreads cancer by cutting up uterine fibroids that unknowingly contain cancer cells, causing the cells to spread throughout the uterus and other nearby organs.

An estimated 1 in every 350 patients undergoing these surgeries have undetected cancer cells in the uterus. For these women, morcellators spread and worsen cancer prognosis. Many lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson and other morcellator manufacturers.

Between the serious complications of power morcellators and robotic systems, patients must be diligent when agreeing to certain types of surgery. Patients should be thoroughly informed on all the options available to them as well as the risks of these options. Although doctors make recommendations, patients are always in charge of their own medical choices.

Our team of defective medical device lawyers is currently accepting cases of serious injury from da Vinci Surgical Systems and power morcellators. If you or someone you love was harmed by one of these products, contact our firm as soon as possible for a free case review.

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