Robotic surgery injuries on the rise

Robots are now used in a variety of procedures, but serious errors can still occur in the operating room.

The idea of a robot operating on you sounds like something out of a science fiction film. It is, however, a reality for many patients. Since 2000, over a million robotic surgeries have been performed, according to an article by Johns Hopkins. Unfortunately, just because a machine is involved does not mean the potential for human error is eliminated.

There have been at least 71 deaths and 245 complications in robotic surgeries reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The actual numbers are probably much higher though since experts say that robotic surgery errors are likely underreported.

The use of robots has also risen dramatically, sometimes before the safety of such procedures has been fully evaluated. Between 2007 and 2011, procedures performed using robots increased by over 400 percent in the United States. In 2013, injuries increased more than six times any previous year, according to an article in Men's Health.

When are robots used?

Robots are used to perform a variety of procedures including:

  • Hysterectomy
  • Gallbladder removal
  • Prostate removal
  • Repair of the mitral heart valve

The surgeons operating these robots may be in a different room than the patient undergoing the surgery. One benefit of the technology is that the robots allow specialists in high demand to treat more patients.

How safe is robotic surgery?

Generally, most procedures involving robots are safe and successful. When mistakes do occur, however, they can lead to tragic consequences for the patient. Below are some of the benefits and drawbacks of robotic surgery:

Benefits

  • Less invasive
  • More physician availability
  • Reduced infection risk
  • Less physically taxing for physicians

Drawbacks

  • Reduced tactile sensation for the surgeon (may cause difficulties in determining if incisions are appropriate)
  • More expensive
  • Physicians need additional training and experience to use the robots effectively
  • Risk of burns from electrical sparks or leaps of electricity
  • Device malfunctions may cause injury (e.g. spontaneous powering on/off or uncontrolled movements)

What should you do if you suffer as the result of a robotic surgery?

Operating room errors, whether due to robot or human, can cause devastating consequences. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a surgical error contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

Salazar, Sullivan & Jasionowski has represented numerous clients who have suffered medical malpractice. The firm will advise you of your options, advocate on your behalf, and work to obtain the maximum compensation available for your injuries.