There are several pending lawsuits throughout the country involving the Da Vinci Surgical System and its dangerous effects on surgery patients. Personal injury attorneys are concerned that the new technology is inflicting more harm than good, putting American lives at risk.
At its inception, the Da Vinci Surgical System inspired awe within the medical community. Despite the mounting problems associated with the system, hospitals around the country continue to invest inordinate costs – at least $1.8 million per system – into the Da Vinci robots. The underlying philosophy of this system is appealing: tiny incisions are made only big enough for surgical tools to fit as surgeons sitting a few feet away guide the four-armed robot through the procedure through the use of a high-powered camera, joysticks, and foot pedals.
It sounds too good to be true, and, according to patient reports, it is. The system was developed by Intuitive Surgical of Sunnyvale, CA, which is being blamed for failing to accurately disclose the risks associated with the system. Like too many products available in the American marketplace, there is a large disparity between Intuitive’s marketing claims and the actual scientific risks and differentials in medical outcomes. At least one plaintiff is claiming severe injuries due to the system’s defective design, citing un-insulated arms, and the potential of the machine’s electrical current to jump to internal organs and tissue.
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Another major problem with the system is that there are no national tests to ensure surgeon proficiency. At its headquarters, Intuitive runs a three to four day training program, however there is no certification or licensing requirement associated with the system’s operation. The training program exclusively uses cadavers, and many of the pending lawsuits involve surgeons who were operating for the first time on a live patient.
To date, at least nine Da Vinci Robot lawsuits have been filed. Three of those cases involve patients who underwent hysterectomies, and two of the nine are wrongful death claims. Plaintiffs allege that use of the system led to serious injuries, including surgical burns, tissue damage, excessive bleeding, over-anesthetization, and death. The system is designed to be used in performance of hysterectomies, prostate removal, gastric bypass, gall bladder removals and thyroid cancer surgeries.
Further exacerbating the issue, researchers found that robotic surgeries cost patients over $1,000 more, on average, than traditional surgeries. The patient benefits of such robotic surgeries, however, are seemingly insignificant and unfounded. The motivating factor driving hospitals to adopt this system, then, comes down to attempts to increase market share in competition with other hospitals. The system is now being used in thousands of hospitals throughout the country, for no other reason than to one-up each other.
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The system was approved for sale in 2000. In 2012, Intuitive Surgical enjoyed a staggering 72% gross profit margin and, at the end of the third quarter, had more than $2.7 billion in cash and investments. Profits are expected to increase into 2013 as hospitals continue to invest in the Da Vinci systems.
Reports affirm that in 2011 alone, over 250,000 hysterectomies and prostate removal surgeries were performed by the Da Vinci system. Despite the immensity of patients undergoing robotic surgeries, very few studies have been conducted measuring the effectiveness of Da Vinci versus traditional procedures. Numerous institutions, including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Kaiser Foundation have challenged whether the benefits really outweigh the risks.
Our personal injury attorneys will continue to track developments relating to the Da Vinci Surgical System. Patients around the country are innocently suffering serious consequences as a result of this new technology.