Technical advancements have helped doctors around the world treat and even cure a wide range of diseases, injuries and other ailments. But new procedures, like robotic surgery, also come with their own set of risks. Unfortunately, things can and sometimes do go wrong.
At Searcy Denney, we help people in West Palm Beach and across Florida injured by robotic surgery and other mistakes get back on their feet by seeking compensation for their injuries. We are seasoned medical malpractice attorneys who combined decades of experience and a track record of successful results.
What is Robotic Surgery?
Robotic surgery, as the name suggests, refers to a variety of procedures performed with the assistance of robots.
That is not to say that R2-D2 and C-3PO from “Star Wars” are going to come into your operating room, pick up a scalpel and start cutting. Rather, robotic procedures commonly use one or more mechanical arms with tools or cameras connected to them. A surgeon controls the arms using a device near the operating table.
Some of the procedures most commonly performed with the assistance of robots include:
- Kidney and other transplants
The technology is designed to make surgical procedures more precise, safe and effective by limiting the risk of human error. It allows surgeons to better perform certain standard surgical procedures and to do more complex procedures that otherwise might not be possible. For example, doctors have performed kidney transplants in obese patients that they say would have been too risky to try without robot assistance.
Some surgeons also say that robotic procedures can lessen recovery time for patients.
Risks Associated with Robotic Surgery
Although robotic surgery is becoming increasingly common and the technology continues to advance, it is far from perfect. Some research shows that robotic procedures are roughly as effective as alternatives and expose patients to a similar level of risk of complications or death.
A systematic review of 50 studies – published in the Annals of Internal Medicine – focused particularly on abdominal and pelvic surgeries. The studies compared robotic procedures to laparoscopic (using handheld tools) and open (using a large incision) surgeries.
About 9% of laparoscopic procedures resulted in complications that required further surgery, compared to about 8% of robotic procedures. Focusing particularly on gastrointestinal surgeries, as much as 3% of laparoscopic procedures and 4% of open procedures resulted in life-threatening complications compared to up to 2% of robotic procedures.
“There is currently no clear advantage with existing robotic platforms,” the researchers concluded.
Injuries Caused by Robotic Surgery
One growing problem with robotic surgery is that the companies who make the robots often do not take the appropriate steps to ensure that the technology is safe to use. Combine that with insufficient training for doctors and medical professionals new to using the equipment and you have a recipe for disaster.
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed in Florida and across the country against robotic surgery machine manufacturers and doctors who use the equipment. These cases allege that people undergoing a wide range of surgical procedures have been injured as a result of doctor mistakes, as well as poor design and construction of robot devices.
A slew of lawsuits against one leading robotic surgery manufacturer, the company behind the Da Vinci Surgical System, highlights the serious and life-changing injuries that can result from these procedures. Patients have suffered everything from electrical burns to organ damage and even death from botched robotic procedures, according to the lawsuits.
Suing for Medical Malpractice Related to Robotic Surgery
Anyone who is injured in a robotic surgery has the right to take legal action against those responsible, just like people who are injured as a result of other types of medical procedures.
Medical malpractice is a legal claim designed to hold doctors, healthcare professionals, and their employers and hospitals responsible when they do not live up to a certain standard of care.
The monetary damages available in these cases are primarily aimed at compensating an injured person for the financial consequences of the injury. That includes money for additional doctors’ bills – whether it is for more surgery, new treatments and medication or rehabilitation services – as well as missed wages during recuperation and any impact of the injury on the person’s long-term earning capacity. An injured person can also seek compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.
In some limited situations, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish particularly reckless or negligent behavior.
In a tragic situation in which a person dies as a result of a robotic surgery incident, his or her loved ones can take action by pursuing a claim for wrongful death. Certain family members can seek compensation for a range of financial implications of the person’s death. That includes hospital, medical and burial costs, as well as money for the loss of the deceased person’s financial and emotional support.
Florida law imposes a two-year statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases. That means that an injured person must file a lawsuit within two years of the date on which he or she knew or should have known that the injury or illness was caused by malpractice.
Robotic surgery cases can raise complicated questions about who is to blame, however. Hospitals and doctors often point the finger at equipment manufacturers, who respond in kind by arguing that mistakes in using the technology are the culprit.
It is vital that anyone pursuing legal action stemming from a robotic surgery injury seek the advice of an experienced attorney who can identify those responsible and clearly prove their liability. A seasoned medical malpractice attorney can also work to resolve your case without a long and drawn-out court fight in many situations.
Speak with a Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a robotic surgery procedure, you have the right to seek compensation from those responsible. 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 a West Palm Beach injury lawyer today.