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Robotic surgery might be wave of the future, but has problems now

In many kinds of technology, one way to make things safer is to remove the human element from the equation. For example, while the idea of self-driving cars might strike some people as dangerous, a large percentage of today's motor vehicle accidents are caused by the negligent actions of the drivers themselves -- either due to intoxication, inattention, drowsiness or just poor decision-making skills.

Other processes that have become automated have ended up being very beneficial in terms of taking a load off of human workers -- everything from assembly-line work to vacuuming. One area where people might not have thought of robotic technology, however, is surgery.

Most of our Albuquerque readers might imagine that a large percentage of operating room errors stem from human error. Surgeons can easily nick a critical organ or artery during an otherwise routine procedure, turning a simple operation into a potentially fatal one. Thus, it might seem logical to expect that using robotic technology would lower the incidence of error -- and provide a safer environment for patients.

However, as of now, the jury is still out. There are claims of perhaps as many as 70 deaths due to adverse events during robotic surgery. Some patients have said that their doctors did not adequately explain the risks of such procedures to them -- or that it might be easier or safer to undergo traditional surgery. In any case, any patient who has been injured due to a surgical error may wish to consider contacting an experienced medical malpractice attorney for assistance.

Source: Bloomberg, "Robot Surgery Damaging Patients Rises With Marketing," Robert Langreth, Oct. 7, 2013

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