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Da Vinci Surgical Robot Proves Defective: Three Lawsuits Already Filed

Intuitive Surgical, Inc.’s da Vinci Surgical System is the target of several recent lawsuits beginning in Alabama, Mississippi and New York. This device was cleared by the FDA in 2000 and claims to be a much-desired minimally invasive alternative to traditional surgery. The da Vinci robot performs surgery through a remote-controlled robotic arm with powerful electricity at the tip, meant to “burn” away specified tissue. According to the Los Angeles Times, use of the da Vinci robotic surgery “…has quadrupled in the last four years, and the machine now helps with incisions and sutures in 2,000 hospitals around the world.”

Though this system was once touted as a great achievement of modern innovation, its problems may outweigh the technological benefits. For instance, the da Vinci robot uses very powerful electrical energy in order to cauterize the desired tissue, effectively “burning” away the tissue that a surgeon would cut for an incision or remove if infected. This electrical current is concentrated at the tip of the robotic arm. However, it has been found that, due to repeated use, insulation on the robotic arm may degrade over time, allowing electricity to flow into unintended surrounding tissue. This defect can cause serious burns and life-threatening complications.

Three lawsuits have already been filed citing the da Vinci system’s defects. All three suits stem from hysterectomy surgeries, in which two serious injuries and one death have been directly linked to the da Vinci robot. Two women continue to suffer from internal burns on surrounding organs that were meant to be untouched. Both have been forced to undergo extensive, expensive and ineffective corrective surgery to fix these mistakes. One woman died following surgery because the da Vinci robot inadvertently burned a pelvic artery; she hemorrhaged internally and died within two weeks.

The lawsuits also claim that Intuitive Surgical practiced questionable marketing and business techniques in order to sell its da Vinci robots. The company reportedly suppressed complaints and the actual rate of complications and errors in its marketing campaign. It is also argued that Intuitive Surgical employed intimidation tactics in order to persuade hospitals into purchasing the equipment, causing hospitals to fear the loss of business if they did not buy the robots. The company has been accused of fraud for misrepresentation of facts and competition risks.

The Intuitive Surgical case has highlighted the problem of medical communities choosing profit over patient safety. Medical device companies like Intuitive Surgical can be more concerned with keeping products like the da Vinci robots in service than considering any potential health risks. The FDA and organized medicine must take greater steps to protect the public from defective medical devices.

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At Borchardt Law Firm, we wish for no family to ever experience tragedies due to the defects of medical devices. Our firm has the experience and the drive necessary to continue to strive for the improved protection of future generations of Texans. If you or a loved one have ever suffered from a related misfortune and feel you were not properly warned about the potential risks, don’t hesitate to contact a lawyer to discuss any legal compensation you might be entitled. Borchardt Law Firm represent clients over many areas in Texas; feel free to give us a call.

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