da Vinci Surgical Robot Named in Another Lawsuit over Botched Hysterectomy

Another lawsuit has been filed alleging the da Vinci Surgical Robot caused serious injuries, this time by woman who claims the robot caused her surgeon to botch her hysterectomy. According to a report from MassDevice.com, the lawsuit alleges that Intuitive Surgical fraudulently marketed a faulty device, which left the patient with severe injuries to her ureter and bladder.

da Vinci Surgical Robot Background

Intuitive Surgical received clearance from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to market the da Vinci Surgical Robot in 2000. The massive robot, which can cost hospitals as much as $2million 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 the Intuitive Surgical website, the da Vinci Surgical Robot has been used in a wide variety of procedures, including the surgical treatment of:

  • Bladder, kidney, colorectal, gynecological, prostate and throat cancers
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Endometriosis
  • Uterine bleeding, fibroids and prolapse
  • Kidney disorders
  • Mitral valve prolapse
  • Obesity

da Vinci Surgical Robot Injury Lawsuits

Recently, 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

Most recently, an Alabama woman and her husband filed suit in federal court alleging the robot was responsible for her botched hysterectomy, which left her with significant injuries to her left ureter and bladder. The couple’s lawsuit, whiich charges Intuitive Surgical with pain & suffering, negligence, fraud, breach of warranty, unjust enrichment, and loss of consortium, seeks $490 million in damages. The complaint accuses Intuitive Surgical of fraudulently marketing a defective device:

“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,” the complaint states.

Earlier this month, the father of New York woman who died after another botched hysterectomy filed suit alleging the robot’s design flaws – including un-insulated surgical arms and use of electrical current which can jump to healthy internal organs and tissue – caused the his daughter to suffer burns to an artery and her intestine. The young woman underwent a hysterectomy at a Bronx, New York hospital in August 2010, and died as a result of those injuries just two weeks later.

The New York lawsuit alleges that Intuitive Surgical has failed to conduct randomized studies to assess complications that may be associated with use of the da Vinci Surgical Robot. However, according to the complaint, numerous complications have been reported in medical journals with the use of the da Vinci robot in various types of surgeries. The complaint further alleges that da Vinci Surgical Robot injuries often do not become apparent until after the surgical procedure. In cases where a surgeon has not been properly trained by Intuitive Surgery on the use of the machine, they may not realize that burns and tears have occurred.

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