Standard treatment for prostate cancer is surgery to remove the prostate gland (prostatectomy). More than 85% of these procedures are performed with the Da Vinci Surgical Robot. Unfortunately, our lawyers are concerned that robot prostate surgery is no better than non-robotic surgery in most cases, but introduces risks of mechanical malfunction, surgeon errors, incontinence, permanent sexual dysfunction, and more.
UPDATE: In 1st Robot Surgery Lawsuit, Verdict for Defense
June 20, 2013 — The first Da Vinci Surgical Robot lawsuit to go before a jury has returned a verdict in favor of the defense. However, the individual circumstances of the case mean that the verdict may not affect at least 30 other lawsuits currently pending against Intuitive Surgical. Click here to read more.
June 18, 2013 — A 65 year-old man suffered permanent, debilitating nerve damage after he underwent a robotic prostatectomy for more than 6 hours. Click here to read more.
April 2013 — $7.5 million in medical malpractice damages has been awarded to plaintiff Juan Fernandez of Chicago, who died in 2007 when surgeons punctured his intestines during robot surgery.
Robot Prostate Surgery Lawsuits
Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of the Da Vinci Surgical Robot, is facing dozens of lawsuits filed by people who were injured during robot surgery. The first robot prostate surgery lawsuit has gone before a jury in Port Orchard, Washington. The plaintiff, Fred Taylor, suffered a deadly bowel perforation and stroke during what should have been a routine prostatectomy. It was the first time his doctor, Scott Bildsten, had used the robot without assistance.
Your robot prostate surgery lawsuit could be compensated for:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Future surgery or medical care
- Permanent disability
- Lost wages
- Wrongful death
- Punitive damages against Intuitive Surgical
Problems With Robot Prostate Surgery
Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Intuitive Surgical’s Da Vinci Surgical Robot in 2000, it has grown dramatically in popularity. The most common robot-assisted surgery is prostate surgery to remove the prostate gland (also known as a prostatectomy, a common treatment for prostate cancer). Today, more than 85% of all prostatectomies in the United States are performed with a robot.
Unfortunately, besides the “wow”-factor, many experts are concerned that there is no medical or scientific justification for the rapid rise of robot surgery. Robot-assisted surgery is often thousands of dollars more expensive than non-robotic surgery. There is also growing concern about injuries caused by surgeon errors and mechanical malfunctions.
There is little evidence that robot prostate surgery has any benefit over non-robot surgery, except in unusual circumstances (extremely obese patients, for example). Most non-robotic prostatectomies use 1-2 cm incisions and minimally-invasive laparoscopic techniques.
One Day of Training for Robot Prostate Surgery
One of the biggest concerns with robot prostate surgery is surgeon errors due to a lack of training. Surgeons who use the Da Vinci Surgical Robot are completely removed from tactile sensation of operating on a patient. The surgeon sits at a console, looks into a view-finder, and uses foot-pedals and joysticks to control four robotic arms and a video camera.
Robot surgery is much different from traditional surgery, which takes years to master. According to an editorial published in 2010 in the New England Journal of Medicine, experts estimated that 150 procedures would be necessary to become proficient with a surgical robot.
Intuitive Surgical was required to provide surgeons with three days of training as part of the FDA clearance in 2000. However, since then, Intuitive has reduced the amount of training to one or two days, depending on the surgeon’s preference. The company is now facing lawsuits from individuals who allege they were injured because their surgeon was not adequately trained.
Robot Prostate Surgery Injuries
The American Society of Clinical Oncology published a study of robot prostate surgery injuries in January 2012. Researchers who conducted the study warned:
“Risks of problems with continence and sexual function are high … men should not expect fewer adverse effects following robotic prostatectomy.”
Robot prostate surgery injuries and complications:
- Urinary problems
- Sexual dysfunction
- Lacerated blood vessels, organs, or tissue
- Bowel perforation
- Organ damage
- Burns and electrocutions
- Surgical errors
- Need for additional surgery