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Lawsuit Filed After Robot Surgery Arm Left Inside Patient


October 6, 2014 — A lawsuit has been filed by a woman who suffered excruciating pain for seven months after her surgeon left a piece of a surgical robot inside her abdomen.

The Oregonian reports that plaintiff Heidi Carlson underwent surgery at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, on September 26, 2012. During the surgery, a piece of the robot’s arm fell into her abdominal cavity.

Unfortunately, her surgeon did not notice the accident. Unlike traditional surgery, robotic surgery is performed at a console away from the patient. The surgeon looks through a 3D viewfinder and controls the robot’s four arms using joysticks and foot-pedals.

Carlson went home and developed “severe, incapacitating pain” that made it impossible to work. Even so, her surgeon did not order additional scans.

It was not until seven months later, in April 2013, that a CT scan and X-rays identified a foreign metal object in her abdomen. When the object was removed in June, it was identified as a part of the robot’s arm.

Carlson is seeking $475,000 in compensation for her medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.

The lawsuit was filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court. It includes malpractice claims against her surgeon, Dr. Philippa Ribbink, and product liability claims against Intuitive Surgical, Inc., the manufacturer of the Da Vinci Surgical Robot.

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