Articles Posted in Robotic Surgery Injury

In a recent post, I outlined the steps patients need to take when a health care provider prescribes medications. It is important that patients feel empowered to ask questions and to make sure they know what medications they are taking and why.

As an experienced medical device injury lawyer, I want patients to understand the risks involved in surgical procedures and feel empowered to ask questions about recommended surgeries, particularly those involving robotic devices. Whether your physician is recommending that you take a particular medication or undergo a surgery, you need to know that you have a right to ask questions and to get as much information as you need to feel comfortable.

Patients should be asking similar questions of their health care providers when a surgical procedure is recommended as when medications are prescribed. It is unwise to undergo any surgical procedure unless the patient knows why the surgery is recommended, whether there are less invasive alternatives and how the physician intends to perform the surgery.

A very important and alarming example of this relates to robotic surgery which has become more and more common for certain conditions. If the surgeon is recommending a robotic surgical procedure to you as a patient, usually for a hysterectomy or prostatectomy, the patient should ask several key questions:

What are the alternatives to using a robot for the surgery?

Which procedure takes longer (robotic or non robotic)?

How many times has your surgeon performed the robotic procedure?

How and where did the surgeon learn to perform the robotic surgery?

Why is the robotic surgery being recommended better than laparoscopic or open procedure for the particular problem involved?

What is the rate of complications and the nature of the complications associated with robotic surgery?

What complications are associated with robotic surgery?

Robotic surgeries are coming under greater scrutiny and there are problems and issues that are resulting from these procedures.

Our law firm represents many clients who have undergone robotic surgeries in which, for example, bowel perforations have occurred. Other serious problems with the robotic equipment involve a failure of the insulation to prevent electricity contacting the patients tissue and other structures outside the operative site, stitches coming apart that were placed by the robot, holes in the bladder, cuts to the patient’s ureter and other problems.

These issues and risks should be disclosed by your surgeon prior to any robotic surgery. In addition, patients should question their surgeon when he or she promotes robotics as the best way to operate in any given surgical procedure. The patient should also be told that the hospital, surgeon and the anesthesiologist make more money by performing a robotic surgery than another approach.

In summary, patients must take their health care seriously, not be intimidated and be their own health advocates by asking the questions and making the inquiries.
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Intuitive Surgical, which makes the da Vinci surgical robot has just issued a notification, but not just any notification, this one is marked urgent and it is making national news. We learned of this independently, because we closely follow the issues with these devices and represent those injured during robotic surgeries. As robotic surgery injury lawyers, with expertise in the safety issues related to da Vinci robotic devices, we want the public to know of this danger.

The company’s “urgent medical device notification” is intended to warn hospitals and physicians that the maker has “identified a potential issue” with the device. The maker wants medical professionals to know that internal burns can result from the use of one of the robot’s instruments. We want our readers to know about this danger.

Surgical injury cases have been on the rise and the safety of the da Vinci Robotic device has been an issue for some time. This urgent notification states that there are “micro-cracks” in some of these devices. The problem is focused on what are called “monopolar curved scissors” which the maker is now stating may leak and then create “a pathway for electrosurgical energy to leak to tissue during use and potentially cause thermal injury.” In other words, the device can burn the patient’s tissues.

A major concern relating to this is that the micro-cracks are likely not going to be visible to the medical professionals using the device in surgery … they are too small to be seen. Although the company has yet to confirm specific injuries to patients, they have issued this notification. We call it a warning to patients and to medical professionals — patients must be made fully aware of the risk of injury and if they are injured they should contact legal professionals for guidance.

The company has also included Precautions and Warnings for Usage of the EndoWrist Monopolar Curved Scissors as part of the urgent notification. Medical professionals need to understand this additional risk, even taking these “precautions” and must inform their patients of the risk of internal burns. If patients are injured during such a surgery, whether they have been informed of the risk or not, they need to protect their legal rights and get additional medical support.
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