Use of the Da Vinci Surgical System has quadrupled in the last four years, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article. Da Vinci is a multi-purpose robot with four metal and plastic arms that can lend a hand with surgeries including heart bypass, hysterectomies and prostate removal.
It is important to understand that this robot is not actually performing the surgery. It is only mirroring the movements of the surgeon’s hands. But according to Dr. Marty Makary, a surgeon at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the robot is more of a marketing tool to attract patients and doesn’t really do much to improve the quality of care.
The disturbing fact is that 12 years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the Da Vinci, there is still no industry standard for training and credentialing doctors to use the robot, beyond a basic course by manufacturer. This leaves patients wondering as to whether their surgeon is experienced enough to perform the surgery using a robot.
Many Da Vinci lawsuits claim that hospitals allow surgeons without sufficient experience to use the robots. Some surgeons and hospital officials say the robots are being overused, even when there is no clear benefit.