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Surgical robots under FDA investigation

Many hospitals in New Mexico rely on high-tech equipment to save and improve the lives of their patients. Unfortunately, sometimes the technology fails to live up to its expectations, and the hospital could face accusations of hospital negligence as a result.

Most patients welcome the use of new technologies that promise more accuracy and fewer surgeon errors. Last year, more than 350,000 robots have performed surgeries. In most cases, the operation runs smoothly and patients report less recovery time; however, the use of robots has been connected to at least five deaths since the beginning of 2012. In some cases, a robot is needless for a surgery that can easily be performed by a surgeon's hand; however, hospitals advertise the robots heavily in an effort to raise enough profits to cover the cost of the $1.45 million robots.

Even though robotic surgery is profitable for many hospitals, it has proven costly for some hospitals that have to face the consequences of robotic surgeries gone wrong. After one man died as a result of a punctured intestine during a robotic operation on his spleen, his family filed a lawsuit and received more than $7 million. One possible cause for the errors is inadequate training for surgeons who operate the robots. Although the optimal amount of training required is unknown, some doctors estimate that as many as 150 hours of training is needed. The amount of training time that most surgeons receive is also unclear.

Until the FDA completes its investigation, the safety of surgical robots is still uncertain. It is important for patients and their families to report any injuries or deaths related to the use of robots in surgeries. People who have been harmed as a result of hospital negligence may want to seek the help of an attorney.

Source: Time, "FDA Investigating Potential Problems with Popular Surgical Robot," Lindsey Tanner, April 9, 2013

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