Robotic surgery has been touted as a game changer for doctors and patients that makes various procedures more effective and easier to perform safely. But while the use of this tech to perform operations previously done by hand is rising, so too are concerns about the risks that come with it.
At Searcy Denney, we help people who have been injured in robotic surgery procedures and as a result of other medical mistakes take action to get the compensation they deserve. Our track record of success speaks for itself: We have dedicated our professional lives to helping people and families in West Palm Beach and across Florida.
Our Florida Injury Lawyers Have Noticed the Rise of Robot Surgery
Robot surgery is a catch-all name for a variety of procedures that are performed using mechanical arms. A surgeon controls those arms using a device inside the operating room.
That is compared to two other common types of surgery: laparoscopic (using handheld tools) and open (using a large incision).
The U.S. is leading the shift to robot-assisted surgeries with more than 875,000 such procedures performed across the country every year. Robot surgeries now account for at least 15% of all surgeries in the country, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan. Both laparoscopic and open procedures are ticking down at the same time.
Robots are now assisting with a broad range of procedures. Among the most common are gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy), colon removal (colectomy), and hernia repair, the study showed. Robot-assisted techniques have also long been common in urology procedures.
But the Michigan researchers also point out that the benefits of robotic surgery remain “unclear.” The rapid rise of these procedures should be tempered with caution about the risks that can come with them.
Robotic Surgery Risks
The benefits of robotic surgery are often hailed by the companies who make the equipment and the doctors who use it in the operating room.
They emphasize that the technology can cut down on the time that it takes to perform surgery and reduce the recovery period for patients. They also note that robot assistance allows surgeons to perform certain complicated procedures that otherwise might be considered too risky.
Yet, the data paints a different picture. Studies show that robot assistance often comes with roughly the same results as other procedures and carries about the same risk.
A systematic review of 50 studies on abdominal and pelvic surgeries, for example, showed little difference in the frequency of complications among patients who had robot-assisted procedures compared with laparoscopic or open procedures.
Meanwhile, a separate study out of Johns Hopkins University suggests that complications from robotic surgery have been underreported. The researchers blamed a “haphazard” reporting system in which doctors and hospitals are required to report deaths and other complications to robot manufacturers, who are then required to report to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Risks for Cancer Patients
There is a particular reason for concern among cancer patients considering robotic surgery. These procedures may be even riskier than other types of surgery.
The FDA has warned against the use of robotic procedures for many cancer-related surgeries. The agency points out that it has not approved robotic devices for these procedures. It also points to some research showing that robot assistance may even be more harmful than other types of surgery for cancer patients.
“There is limited, preliminary evidence that the use of robotically-assisted surgical devices for treatment or prevention of cancers that primarily (breast) or exclusively (cervical) affect women may be associated with diminished long-term survival,” the FDA said in an August 2021 notice.
A 2018 study of women with early-stage cervical cancer, for instance, found that patients who opted for robot-assisted hysterectomy procedures had lower rates of disease-free survival than those who underwent open surgery.
The FDA advises cancer patients to do their homework before opting for robot-assisted surgery. They should ask about their surgeons’ particular experience and training using robot assistance and the outcomes of previous procedures, according to the FDA. They should also ask about potential short-term and long-term complications and how often those complications happen.
Injured in a Robot Surgery? Our Florida Injury Lawyers Explain Your Rights
Anyone who has been injured as a result of a robotic surgery gone wrong has the right to seek compensation from those responsible. That may include the surgeon who performed the procedure, his or her employer and the hospital where the surgery occurred, as well as the robot manufacturer.
No amount of money will allow you to go back in time and stop the botched procedure from happening. Compensation can, however, put you back as close as possible to the financial situation that you were in before the injury. The money damages in these cases typically include compensation for related medical bills, as well as missed wages during recuperation and any long-term impact on your earning capacity. Additional compensation may also be available for pain and stress.
Tragically, some surgical errors result in untimely death. In these situations, the family of the person killed can take action to ensure that those responsible are held fully accountable. Certain family members can sue for wrongful death, seeking similar compensation to that which would have been available to their loved one had he or she survived. That includes hospital, medical and burial costs, as well as money for the loss of the deceased person’s financial and emotional support.
It is important to understand that time is of the essence. Florida law generally gives people two years to file a medical malpractice or wrongful death suit. An experienced Florida injury lawyer can help you understand your rights and options.
Our Florida Injury Lawyers Can Help
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a robotic surgery procedure gone wrong, the Florida injury lawyers at Searcy Denney can help.
Our offices are conveniently located in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee. Call us at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.