da Vinci Robot Lawsuit
Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci robot is among the biggest medical stories of 2013. The device has been installed in 2,000 hospitals across the U.S. and an impressive 367,000+ robot-assisted surgeries have performed over the last year. However, the 34% increase in adverse event reports and sudden emergence of da Vinci robot lawsuit claims has produced skeptics m in the technology’s ability to outperform minimally-invasive surgical techniques.
The personal injury attorneys of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye continue to monitor the news cycle, the medical journals, and nationwide court dockets in an effort to stay on top of the latest developments regarding the controversial machine. Anyone who believes their robotic surgery caused them to suffer bodily harm is encouraged to call and tell us about your experience. We may be able to help.
Da Vinci robot one of the biggest stories of 2013
In a review of major med-tech stories from the year, Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry said that Intuitive’s troubles can be viewed as “both a cautionary tale and an opportunity.” In another article, the magazine listed Intuitive Surgical as one of the “MedTech Losers of 2013.” They cited a number of misfortunes for the company this year — stocks plunging 18%, FDA investigations into the increased reports of adverse events, warning letters of FDA violations, published studies claiming that robotic surgery complications were going unreported, and more than 25 lawsuits pending.
Information Week said that the introduction of the da Vinci system in 2000 ushered in a new era of robotic surgeries that promised reduced pain and complications, as well as quicker recovery times. Yet, “Training needs, correct patient selection, and technological challenges remain significant enough to cloud the future of truly robotic surgery.”
This year, the law office of Edelman, Krasin & Jaye has fielded multiple calls regarding da Vinci robot injuries and consumer rights. While futuristic robotic surgery carries the promise of a better life, it doesn’t always work out that way.
Da Vinci robot overview
The da Vinci robot is often described as a “robot surgeon,” but that’s not entirely true. A human surgeon is still needed to manipulate tools attached to a robotic arm that includes a camera showing the inside of the body. Using the device, surgeons can make smaller incisions that need only fit the robotic probe, rather than completely opening a patient up as in traditional surgery.
Minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery has been around for years, but the surgeon can use the robotic arms and hands instead of his own for more precise, controlled movements. The robots were not designed to replace laparoscopic surgery, but rather, to expand its application.
Reported benefits of da Vinci robotic surgery include:
- Less pain
- Less blood loss
- Less scarring, and
- Shorter hospital stays
Surgeons say the robot “wrists” are more flexible than a human wrist. “Robotic surgery does help me when I have to go really deep in the pelvis or use a lot of sutures,” Cleveland Clinic gynecological surgeon Marie Paraiso told The Wall Street Journal.
Robotic surgery has been used for prostate and uterus removals, gastric bypasses, gall bladder removals, thyroid cancer surgeries, mitral valve prolapse repair, kidney cancer surgeries, colectomies, bladder surgeries, and coronary artery disease operations.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal reports that “Robotic surgical technology is beneficial for certain types of surgeries – such as neck, throat and rectal operations” – but adds that it has been “broadly adopted not based on good science but rather on patient demand.”
However, robot-assisted surgery is no longer advised for hysterectomy or thyroidectomy operations. Analysis published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found complications in 2% of robot surgeries, which is twice the rate of traditional surgery. Furthermore, the FDA published a March 2013 report clarifying that the da Vinci robot is not approved for use in thyroidectomy surgeries.
Da Vinci robotic surgery complications
There have been at least 70 deaths linked to da Vinci robot surgery, according to Bloomberg. A report by Citron reveals 2,332 adverse events from robotic surgeries reported to the FDA in the first eight months of 2013. Reported injuries include burns, tears, internal bleeding, organ ruptures and infection. Occasionally, surgeons have reported a “rogue” robot arm that seemingly moves on its own and requires immediate shutdown to prevent patient harm. However, most injuries are related to possible defects in design.
NBC News reports that an FDA inspection recently uncovered microscopic cracks in the protective covers insulating the da Vinci robot tools, which have led to “sparking” that damages surrounding tissues and organs. A portion of the robot’s arm extends off-camera beyond the surgeon’s view, so it’s this area where problems are occurring. The company voluntarily recalled some of the covers, but never directly acknowledged a manufacturing defect.
Intuitive Surgical lawsuit information
Manufacturer Intuitive Surgical is in hot water with more than 50 lawsuits filed against them alleging serious injury and wrongful death attributed to da Vinci robot complications. There has been some talk of consolidating similar cases into a class action suit or multidistrict litigation, but claims have yet to be coordinated and are proceeding individually.
Of the numerous da Vinci robot lawsuits filed, a few have been resolved:
- A Chicago family was awarded $7.5 million when a poorly-trained surgeon accidentally punctured their loved one’s intestines during spleen surgery, causing a fatal infection.
- Intuitive Surgical won a case where it was determined that a 67-year-old Washington man’s obesity and previous hernia operation made him an unfit candidate for da Vinci robotic surgery.
- A robot’s malfunction during a Louisiana woman’s thyroid surgery forced the surgeon to revert to a more invasive open surgery procedure that left a large scar. Intuitive Surgical settled for an undisclosed sum.
- Intuitive Surgical settled quietly again in the case of an Alabama woman who developed a painful abscess during a robot-assisted hysterectomy.
File a da Vinci robot lawsuit in New York
If you or someone you love has been injured by da Vinci robotic surgery, do not hesitate to call Edelman, Krasin and Jaye for a free consultation. Our firm has specialized in complex personal injury and defective medical device litigation since 1952. Boasting a staff of talented product liability lawyers with experience and sensitivity to your needs, we offer legal advocacy of the highest caliber. Learn more about your legal options today, call toll-free at 1-800-469-7429.
- MD+DI – MedTech in 2013: A Year of Disruptions and Debates http://www.mddionline.com/article/medtech-2013-year-disruptions-and-debates
- Information Week – Robotic Surgery: da Vinci Versus The Ideal http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/clinical-information-systems/robotic-surgery-da-vinci-versus-the-ideal/d/d-id/1112732
- CMAJ – Robotic Surgery Under Scrutiny http://www.cmaj.ca/site/earlyreleases/26nov13_robotic-surgical-system-under-scrutiny.xhtml
- NBC News - Electrical burns may burst surgical robot's bubble http://www.nbcnews.com/health/electrical-burns-may-burst-surgical-robots-bubble-6C10321766
- Fox News – OB-GYNs told robots not the best option http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/03/15/ob-gyns-told-robot-hysterectomy-not-best-option/#ixzz2ZtH9zBgr
- Bloomberg – Intuitive Surgical Declines As Revenue Misses Estimates http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-17/intuitive-s-profit-declines-on-lower-da-vinci-robot-sales.html
- WSJ – Study Raises Doubt Over Robotic Surgery http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323764804578314182573530720
- Citron Research - Citron Updates Intuitive Surgical Price Target to $200 http://www.citronresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Intuitive-Surgical-Oct-2013-Maude-Update-Final.pdf