Legalists Point to Surgical Robot Training and Technical Failings

OK, it’s a press release from a firm of lawyers, no doubt keen to enjoy the benefits of lawsuits it will bring against Intuitive Surgical over its daVinci system. Nonetheless it provides an interesting snapshot into the troubled birthing pains endured by the company during robotic surgery’s adoption into mainstream procedural use.

Background

Law firm Bernstein Liebhard LLP continues to investigate lawsuits on behalf of individuals who suffered serious injuries, allegedly due to Intuitive Surgical, Inc.’s da Vinci robotic surgical system. In so doing it has issued a press release that brings us up to date, pointing in particular to a piece of research that suggests 30% of robotic surgery complications, as reported on the FDA’s MAUDE database, were either a result of operator error or technical failure of the robotic system itself.

The law firm asserts; “This study sheds some more light on what might be behind some of the robotic surgery complications alleged in da Vinci lawsuits. Many of these lawsuits accuse Intuitive of failing to train doctors properly on the device. One important question is whether training issues may have contributed to the reports involving operator errors.”

In its own words,  Intuitive Surgical acknowledged in its October 10-K report that it had been named in at least 50 da Vinci robot lawsuits alleging injuries due to problems with the device and/or a failure on the part of the company to properly train surgeons.

And Bernstein Liebhard also points to results from a small survey of physicians released by the FDA on November 8, 2013 that apparently indicated that training was an issue that could impact patient safety, due to both the difficulty of mastering the device and a lack of consistent training methods.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Bloomberg.com published another report earlier this month, which stated that FDA reports of robotic surgery complications related to the da Vinci more than doubled over the past year, with the agency’s database logging some 3,697 such reports through November 3, 2013 (compared with just 1,595 reports of robotic surgery complications in 2012). Some of the reports detailed injuries and deaths linked to operations, as well as malfunctions where no injury occurred, according to Bloomberg.

So having pointed us at the evidence that Intuitive has a problem, and suggested that it might just be one worthy of litigation, obviously Bernstein Liebhard is pretty keen to help the victims extract due compensation from the embattled company. The firm is currently offering free da Vinci lawsuit evaluations to anyone who may have suffered serious injuries, including surgical burns, torn blood vessels, and organ perforations, in procedures involving the da Vinci Surgical System. Very generous.

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