Product News and Recalls

Robotic Surgery Linked to 144 Deaths in the United States

robotic surgery linked to 144 deathsA recent study found that robotic surgery may have been responsible for 144 deaths in the United States from early 2000 through late 2013. The research was conducted by three prominent medical research centers, and may cause some patients considering a robotically-assisted operation to take caution. An article by BBC News reports some details of the study and discusses the possible implications.

During a robot-assisted surgery, the patient is put under anesthesia. The surgeon then makes small cuts into the patient’s body which are used to insert tiny instruments that will be used to complete the procedure. A small tube with a camera attached allows the surgeon to see inside the body while the surgery is taking place. A robotic arm, usually with surgical instruments attached, then follows the doctor’s hand movements in order to perform the procedure.

Robot-assisted surgery has become commonplace and is used to complete a wide variety of operations including:

  • Coronary artery bypass,
  • The removal of cancerous tissue,
  • Hip replacement,
  • Hysterectomy,
  • Kidney transplant,
  • Mitral valve repair,
  • Prostatectomy, and
  • Tubal ligation.

The study analyzed a total of 1.7 million robotic surgical procedures that were carried out in the years of interest. Of the procedures performed, 144 deaths, 1,391 injuries, and 8,061 device malfunctions were recorded during the robotic surgeries. The data for the study came from FDA reports made by various hospitals, patients, and device manufacturers. The real numbers, as noted in the study, could be higher as not all incidents may have been reported.

Complications during surgery which were included in the study included broken instrument parts falling into bodies, increased procedure time due to technical issues, and burns or other injuries to patients made from electrical sparks. Some of the data was ambiguous as the causes of some complications were not always clear. However, 5 deaths and 436 injuries were very specifically tied to technical issues with the robotic equipment according to the BBC News report.

Robotic surgery is touted as having multiple benefits, including the ability to use small incisions at the surgical site. This supposedly leads to a decreased risk of infection and faster recovery times. However, it is important that patients consider and discuss with their doctors not just the potential benefits of robotic surgery, but also its dangers.

If you or someone you love suffered a serious injury while undergoing a robotically-assisted surgery, contact a Lopez McHugh medical device attorney today at (877) 737-8525. Our attorneys can help you decide if a lawsuit is right for you.