Robotic Surgery Patients Felt Misled

da vinci lawsuitDa Vinci robotic surgery has been noted to be a safe, efficient and effective modern-day medical health care. It is a technique in which a surgeon performs surgery using a computer that remotely controls very small instruments attached to a robot. Robotic surgery has been employed by many hospitals, big and small, in the United States. There is an estimated four out of ten hospitals websites in the US that strongly promotes robotic surgery, claiming it to be clinical superior over traditional surgeries despite lack of scientific evidences, according to a study. However, there are growing negative reports about robotic surgery. Because of this, Intuitive Surgical has experienced financial loss.

The promotional materials overestimate the benefits of surgical robots, largely ignore the risks and are strongly influenced by the product’s manufacturer, Intuitive Surgical. But even when the surgeon has a safe pair of hands, the claimed benefits of robot surgery – lower complication rate and better outcomes – are increasingly coming into doubt.

The new study follows a series of reports critical of robotically assisted surgery. Lawsuits against Intuitive have outlined the aggressive tactics used to market the equipment and raised questions about the quality of training provided to surgeons, as well as the pressure on doctors and hospitals to use it – even in cases where it is not the physician’s first choice and he has little hands-on experience.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking into a spike in reported problems during robotic surgeries. Earlier this year, the FDA began a survey of surgeons using the robotic system. The agency conducts such surveys of devices routinely, but FDA spokeswoman Synim Rivers said the reason for it now is the increase in number of reports received about da Vinci. At least 10 lawsuits have been filed over the last 14 months alleging injuries from robot surgery, and almost all cite Intuitive’s training regimen. It has been reported that U.S. regulators were surveying surgeons about the robots following a rise in adverse event reports that include as many as 70 deaths since 2009.

References:

  • bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-20/robot-surgery-risk-needs-disclosure-as-injuries-rise.html
  • healthcaretechnologyonline.com/doc/robotic-surgery-safety-questioned-0001
  • dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2470811/Would-YOU-life-hands-robot-surgeon-More-patients-asked–assured-itll-safer-precise-But-experts-FAR-convinced.html
  • indiamedicaltimes.com/2011/06/19/hospitals-misleading-patients-about-benefits-of-robotic-surgery-study/
  • denverpost.com/perspective/ci_24349883/misleading-marketing-helps-rise-robotic-surgery
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