Robotic Surgery Attorneys — Medical Malpractice and Product Liability Lawyers
Although they may not realize it, many surgical patients are being injured by robots utilized during their surgery. The most common type of surgeries involved are hysterectomies and other types of gynecological procedures, prostate surgery, and urological procedures.
Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, McCartney & Giuffra LLP will consider starting suit on behalf of an injured patient, either against the company which manufactures the robots or the surgeon who was maneuvering it. Or sometimes both should be sued.
da Vinci Recall Notification and Surgical Usage Precautions
May 8, 2013: Intuitive Surgical made an "Urgent Medical Device Notification" relating to the hot shears (also called monopolar curved scissors) on the da Vinci robot due to the risk of stray electricity leaking to organs and tissue, causing thermal burns. (Notification #2955842-05-07-2013-005)
The significance of this recall is much broader than just the alleged basis for the notification-micro-cracks found in a few arms. The recall notice, when read carefully, demonstrates what we have claimed all along in our New York State groundbreaking McCalla case and others, that there is a serious risk that the use of monopolar current in the da Vinci robot machines will cause burns t o tissue. Such burns may go undetected during surgery and manifest themselves only later when reoperation is needed and permanent damage or death may have occurred.
In fact, the recall notice contains an attachment which outlines the risks of burns. This is useful legally both in showing what doctors should be alert to and may be doing wrong, and what has been concealed from doctors by Intuitive up to now. These points are:
*don't do "air firing" -allowing a gap between the scissors and the tissue, as this allows the current to arc to other tissue
*watch out for burns below or behind the operative field the surgeon can see (by inspecting after doing the surgery)
*be careful using in patients who are more susceptible to electrical burn, such as ones who have had radiotherapy.
*do not exceed a certain maximum in energy setting on the monopolar hot shears as this will lead to thermal burns.
Holding Negligent Parties Accountable for Robotic Surgery Injuries
Surgeries that involve the use of a robotic device are often called "robotic-assisted", implying that the surgeon is doing the work, aided by a machine. This is not, however, an accurate description from the patient's perspective. The machinery and software in the robot does the actual work in the body. No matter who is doing the actual work, if any robotic surgery injury occurs then someone should be held accountable — whether that is the doctor or the manufacturer of the robotic device.
The Role of the Doctor
There have also been many instances where the surgeon is to blame for the complication which results. This type of case is a medical malpractice claim, as compared to what we call a product liability suit against the manufacturer of the robot. Due to carelessness in operating the machine, surgeons may cut vital organs such as blood vessels, ureters and sections of the intestines. Sometimes the doctor has not been sufficiently trained to operate this new technology.
We have started malpractice suits in New York for these events, and are capable of analyzing cases elsewhere and finding local counsel to associate with us in bringing suit.
The Fault of the Robot — Medical Product Liability
However, there are other instances where the robot has let the doctor down, due to its flaws. Or the doctor may have been trained inadequately on the machine. In fact the surgeon may not even know that the machine caused the complication that ensued!
The robots used in these surgeries are called "da Vinci," made by Intuitive Surgery, Inc., a California company traded on the NASDQ (ISRG). It has an exclusive monopoly on robots for surgery in our country. In its promotional materials, it advertises its products as safe. Sadly, this is not always accurate.
Product liability suits against Intuitive Surgical may allege:
- Design flaws such as arcing and insulation defects
- Inadequate training and prematurely certifying a surgeon on the device
- Failure to warn the physician on risks of complications
- Failure to do appropriate patient testing and post-marketing surveillance
- Misrepresentation and overpromotion
- Breach of warranties
- Violation of consumer protection laws
Contact Us for a Case Evaluation
If you or a loved one has been injured from the use of a robotic medical device, please contact our New York City law firm today online or by telephone at 888-335-9457 to speak with an experienced medical malpractice and product liability lawyer.
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