Last week on our Chicago medical malpractice law blog, we had mentioned in one of our blog posts that one surgeon seems to think the only reason patients may be harmed during robotic surgeries is because of human error.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is trying to understand why more patients are being harmed by the da Vinci robotic system as more robotic surgeries continue to be performed in the U.S. every year. The FDA has conducted a survey to determine whether patients are suffering surgical errors because the devices are not working as intended or because surgeons and other medical professionals are simply not getting the training they need to use the devices as safely as possible.
At least in one case, it seems that the surgeon’s assumption that human error contributes to most or all surgical errors when using the da Vinci system appears to be correct. It was recently reported that one doctor is facing 14 counts of unprofessional conduct. The complaint against the doctor was filed by the Colorado Medical Board. The doctor is now being investigated for allegedly botching at least 11 kidney procedures when using the da Vinci system between 2008 and 2010.
During one surgery that was cited in the complaint against the doctor, the doctor had mistakenly torn a patient’s aorta when using the da Vinci system. In other botched robotic surgeries, the doctor allegedly made mistakes that caused patients to suffer nerve damage and internal bleeding. The doctor is also being accused of not positioning patients properly during robotic procedures, increasing their risks of experiencing discomfort or suffering injuries.
In addition to harming patients after making mistakes while using the da Vinci system to perform operations, the doctor has also been accused of making other types of surgical errors. According to the state board, the surgeon has also left medical instruments and sponges inside his patients’ bodies. In addition to facing 14 counts of unprofessional conduct, the doctor is facing at least one lawsuit that has been filed by an injured surgery patient.
Source: CBS News, “Colorado doctor accused of botching multiple robotic kidney surgeries,” Ryan Jaslow, April 12, 2013