Surgical da Vinci Robot Causes Death of Patient; Kingston, Medical Malpractice Attorney Explains

John Fisher
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Stopping Medical Injustice

I’ve said many times before, the marriage of medicine and technology is a GREAT thing.  As technology advances, it can assist to perform medical procedures that just simply were not possible.  On the same page, as medicine advances, it paves the way for new technology to be developed to help perform this new need in the medical field. 

But sometimes this does not always work out in the best way.  I had discussed awhile ago about robotic surgery and another case where the robot malfunctioned and shut off DURING an operation.  This was a new, technology driven form of medical malpractice.  In this New York case, a da Vinci robot was responsible for the death of a patient 24-year-old woman in a really tragic turn of events.

What exactly is a da Vinci robot though?  Traditionally, many surgeries had to be performed with a large incision to perform the operation.  Now, with robots such as the da Vinci system, operations can be performed with multiple, smaller incisions through what is commonly known as laparoscopic surgery.  The da Vinci robot is a large surgical system with four arms all stemming from a control manual with a video screen where the surgeon performs the operation.  Three of these arms are for tools or to hold objects like scissors, scalpels, or cauterization tools.  The fourth arm is the very important endoscopic camera which has two lenses to give the surgeon a full view from inside the patient.  What is really amazing is that the surgeon uses, in unison, two foot pedals and two hand controllers to perform the surgery.  It is actually quite amazing!  Particularly because the machine itself actually filters out little shakes in the hands of the surgeon or slight vibrations and simply translates that into micro-movements of the instruments.  This ensures PINPOINT accuracy!  How amazing! The total cost of each machine is around $2 million. 

What happened in this New York case was simply tragic.  It was just filed this past week.  A 24-year-old girl was undergoing a hysterectomy where the surgeon was using the da Vinci robot—a very common use of this machine for this kind of operation.  Unlike many other operations, for some reason the un-insulated surgical arms of the robot caused burns to a MAJOR artery and the patients intestines.  The plaintiffs argue that this was caused by an electrical current which jumped from those un-insulated arms to healthy tissue due to a design flaw by the manufacturer.  Sadly, the patient died two weeks after the operation.

So the plaintiffs—in a wrongful death action which I recently discussed this past week—are suing the manufacturer of the da Vinci Robot for design flaws which caused the death of the 24-year-old patient, but also suing the surgeons who failed to realize the major damage to the artery and intestines before the conclusion of the operation and during follow-up treatment.

This is a somewhat scary case, because you would think that the machine would be safe to use under the expert guidance of a surgeon.  But in this case, both the technology AND the medicine failed this young girl.

But what do you think?  I would love to hear from you!  I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] .  You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com
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