Study looks at robotic surgery errors

Posted On July 30, 2015 Medical Malpractice by John Allen Phebus

Doctors in Arizona and around the country are increasingly relying on surgical methods that involve the use of robots. While robotic surgery is supposed to make procedures less invasive, it can result in fatal injuries when something goes wrong. A recent study by researchers from MIT, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Rush University Medical Center found that there were 144 deaths and 1,391 injuries involving medical robots between 2000 and 2013.

Researchers looked at over 10,000 incident reports from the Food and Drug Administration to gather information for their study on robotic surgery. In many of the reports of patient fatalities, researchers were unable to determine the cause of death due to insufficient reporting. However, researchers know that 14.7 percent of the incident reports involved broken or burnt pieces of tools falling into the patient’s body, and 10.5 percent of the incident reports involved electrical sparking. Unintended movements by the robot factored into 8.6 percent of the incident reports.

The study’s authors say that there is reason to be worried about errors in robotic surgery. According to the authors, it is being used frequently despite the significant numbers of complications and technical difficulties that occur during procedures. Robotic surgery errors happen more frequently during head and neck surgeries and cardiothoracic surgeries than they do during urology and gynecology procedures.

A person who has been injured while undergoing robotic surgery may want to consider the filing of a medical professional negligence claim. An attorney may be able to investigate the patient’s medical records in order to uncover what went wrong during the procedure and seek damages from the responsible parties.