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Da Vinci Liability Lawsuits: Medical Negligence, Defective Product, or Both?

UPDATED: December 15, 2014

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What Is the Da Vinci System?

The da Vinci robotic device is used to perform surgeries in a minimally invasive manner. It is a computer-operated device with robotic arms, controlled by a surgeon from a console. It has become one of the most popular ways to perform surgery in recent years, however the consequence of its popularity has seen rates of negligence on the rise.

Da Vinci Procedures and Usage

The da Vinci device has been aggressively marketed for all kinds of procedures. As a result, any type of surgery, with the exception of neurosurgery, can involve the use of the da Vinci robotic system. The more common procedures include cardiac, gallbladder, gastric bypass, hysterectomy, prostate and thyroid. Since 2011, the number of surgeries using the da Vinci has increased from 359,000 in 2011 to 523,000 in 2013. The number of adverse reports (reports of injuries) has also increased, from 1,595 in 2012 to 3,697 in 2013.

Da Vinci Defects

Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISI) makes and sells the da Vinci device and is responsible for ensuring their device is appropriate and safe for its intended use. However, the FDA has recently issued warnings to ISI for failure to report field actions to the FDA. Also, as a result of certain mechanical problems that led to patient injuries, ISI recalled Version SII of their da Vinci device in May of 2013. While the device itself has problems, the surgeon also has a role to play here.

Da Vinci Injuries

The spotlight is on surgeons who used the device before feeling competent enough to do so. ISI claims the robot provides surgeons with superior visualization, enhanced dexterity, greater precision and comfort. This, ISI argues, has the potential to raise the standard of care for complex surgeries. However, for a surgeon to use the device well, they need to be thoroughly trained and practiced in using the device. This is where shortcomings have been found and mistakes have been made, resulting in further health issues for patients. This has included:

  • Vaginal cuff dehiscence (can result in severe infection and further surgery)
  • Thermal burns
  • Puncture of vessels, bowel, and organs
  • Bleeding
  • Sepsis
  • Incontinence
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Death

How Can An Attorney Help?

Have you undergone a procedure using the da Vinci system and have experience and suffered adverse results? You should contact an attorney to discuss the potential for litigation and your chances of compensation.

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