Robots behind medical malpractice in hospitals?

Thursday April 25, 2013

When asked what the future would be like 30-years-ago, many New Haven residents would suggest flying cars, teleporting machines and robots. While society does not have access to the first two items, they do have robots. Not the walking talking humanoid robot most science fiction fans think about, but the real life medical robots that have helped perform thousands of surgeries. In fact, 1 out of 4 hospitals in America uses a four-armed robot model named da Vinci to perform surgery. But after several recent medical malpractice lawsuits, many have begun to doubt the use of them.

Last year nearly 400,000 surgeries were performed by the da Vinci robot. The robot could perform anything from prostate surgery to a hysterectomy. After many successful surgeries, at least 500 of the patients have reported some form of malpractice. In 2007, one man was killed after a robot accidently punctured part of his intestines during spleen surgery. The loved ones of the man filed a lawsuit against the hospital claiming that the surgeons had inadequate training with the robot. The family was awarded $7.5 million in damages.

Another malpractice case involved a patient being hit in the face by the arm of a robot during a hysterectomy. Just like human doctors, robots are also prone to accidents. While a majority of surgeries are successful, those that aren’t can cost people their lives.

Behind all of the da Vinci robots is a human operator. When the operator makes a negligent mistake, patients can get hurt or killed. If a mistake does happen, the victim can recover damages by filing a medical malpractice action. They can recover damages for pain and suffering, future medical expenses and damages for any permanent impairment caused by the negligence.

Source: News Net 5, “Robot hot among surgeons but FDA taking fresh look,” Lindsey Tanner, April 9, 2013

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