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.