Another lawsuit has been filed by a victim of an allegedly botched surgery using the da Vinci Surgical Robot. This time, an Alabama woman is claiming that Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the da Vinci Robot, suppressed complaints and concealed rates of complications associated with the robot from the public and federal health regulators. She is seeking $270 million in damages.
The Alabama complaint is just the most recent of several lawsuits have been filed around the country alleging that da Vinci Surgical Robot design flaws, coupled with a lack of adequate training on the part of surgeons who use the device, have caused serious injuries to patients, including:
- Tears and burns to blood vessels
- Tears and burns to the intestines
- Tears and burns to the uterus
- Vaginal cuff dehiscence
According to a report from MassDevice.com, the Plaintiff, a 43-year-old women underwent a hysterectomy at the Nelson Center for Women in Meridian Mississippi. In less than a week, she was readmitted to the hospital for a fever and “shaking chills,” and doctors treated her for a pelvic abscess along the vaginal cuff. Her complaint alleges she was forced to undergo additional surgery, and years later still suffers from pain and discomfort.
The lawsuit faults the tactics used by Intuitive to convince hospitals to purchase the expensive surgical robot:
“Defendant sold it [sic] device through a calculated program of intimidation and market management, forcing hospitals and physicians to purchase it in order to appear to be competitive, and creating a fear in their minds that if they did not have this technology they would lose business to competitors.”
Intuitive Surgical received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to market the da Vinci Surgical Robot in 2000, and it is now used to perform a large number of surgeries, including heart bypass and valve repair operations, hysterectomies, prostate removal surgeries, weight loss surgery, and surgical treatment of ladder, kidney, colorectal, gynecological, prostate and throat cancers. The massive robot, which can cost hospitals as much as $2 million to purchase, is controlled remotely from a console, while the robot’s arms are placed into the patient for burning away tissue in order to remove the diseased organs. Use of the robot is supposed to allow for a less invasive surgery, smaller incisions, and quicker recovery. According to a report published The Los Angeles Times last fall, use of the da Vinci Robot quadrupled in the last four years, and it is now used in at least 2,000 hospitals around the world.