An in-depth NBC news report this week went into the risks posed by the Da Vinci surgical robot, which is being used by hospitals nationwide to perform a variety of surgeries including hysterectomies. NBC spoke with patient Laurie Featherstone who opted for robotic surgery to remove her uterus after her doctor convinced her that it would be “minimally invasive” and would involve “less downtime, less scarring and less than a 3 percent complication risk.”
Serious Injuries and Complications
However, Featherstone’s experience turned out to be different. She experienced a number of complications including excess fluid accumulation in her kidneys. She suffered an injury to one of her ureters, the duct that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder. One of her doctors said the injury was “thermal” and was caused by the robotic surgery.
Featherstone’s ureter was burned and her colon was damaged during surgery. Her prognosis calls for a permanent colostomy, a surgical procedure in which a piece of the colon is diverted to an artificial opening in the abdominal wall so as to bypass a damaged part of the colon. Featherstone filed a lawsuit in 2017 against Intuitive, which manufactures the surgical robot.
The Risk Seems High
While the Da Vinci surgical robot is marketed as a breakthrough in minimally invasive surgery, it has been known for its risks and complications. Physicians like some of the advantages it provides such as a steady robotic arm allowing for more precision and a record of faster recovery for patients. However, NBC spoke to a number of patients who bear testimony to the risks posed by this piece of equipment.
Also according to the Food and Drug Administration’s database, over the last decade, there were more than 20,000 adverse events related to the robot. The reports were filed by Intuitive as well as hospitals, doctors and patients. At the same time, the number of Da Vinci surgeries performed in the United States has increased by 52 percent since 2013, to nearly 700,000 procedures in 2017. More than 2,000 adverse events were categorized as involving injuries, 274 were categorized as deaths, and nearly 17,000 events were classified as device malfunctions, some situations in which the robotic arms went uncontrollably in the wrong direction.
If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries as a result of such defective medical equipment, you may be able to seek compensation for your injuries, damages and losses such as medical expenses, lost income, permanent injuries, disabilities and past and future pain and suffering. An experienced product defect lawyer will be able to advise you regarding your legal rights and options.