Father files suit against surgical robot maker

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The advancement of medical technology is astonishing. However, with such leaps, it is important for the medical community to slow down and review the safety of their devices and whether or not they pose a risk to patients.

Residents of the Columbus area may be interested in reading about a liability lawsuit that was filed on behalf of the estate of a 24-year-old woman whose family members claim was killed by a surgical robot and the mistakes of the surgeon operating the equipment. The wrongful death suit claims that the da Vinci robot has structural flaws that endanger patients during surgical procedures. The father of the victim initiated the case after the woman’s death.

The suit was filed on April 4 in federal court. The suit names Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, as well as the surgeon who performed the operation, as defendants.

The patient, who had been undergoing a hysterectomy procedure, sustained internal burns to an artery and her intestinal tract, which the suit says were caused by the robot’s lack of insulation and excessive electrical current. The amount of current flowing through the machine could damage healthy tissue, according to the suit’s claims.

The suit also claims that the surgical instrument company didn’t sufficiently train the surgeon on the robot’s usage. The company has been improperly certifying doctors to perform procedures with the machine even though they had not been fully trained.

Several attorneys throughout the nation have filed similar malpractice suits against doctors who have used the machine. If the cases move forward, they may be consolidated as a multi-district case, which could make it easier to recover damages for the plaintiffs.

In the past, the equipment company has been able to avoid malpractice suits because no one could prove that the da Vinci itself caused injury during surgical procedures. Lawyers say that doctors may be relieved to find out that the equipment itself was to blame for numerous injuries and deaths.

The company has declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Source: Outpatient Surgery, “Robot maker sued over hysterectomy patient’s death,” Leigh Page, April 10, 2012