Can doctor error still be to blame in robot surgery mishaps?

North Carolina hospitals may join the ranks of facilities offering robot-assisted surgery, but one doctor in Colorado stood accused of promoting the futuristic option to the exclusion of other, possibly safer, methods. Medical malpractice suits could arise from the 10 patients treated by that surgeon using the robotic method between 2008 and 2011. An April 2013 complaint made by the Colorado Medical Board stated that five patients suffered punctured or torn arteries, two had objects temporarily left inside them after surgery and others suffered nerve damage. One patient died and another required cardiopulmonary resuscitation, according to the complaint, which charged the Denver doctor with 14 counts of unprofessional conduct. Included were allegations that he sometimes did not advise patients on alternatives to robotic surgery.

Aggressive marketing done by hospitals, doctors and the manufacturer of the $1.5 million robotic assistant has fueled the number of robotic surgeries performed in the U.S. Allegations were made that a plethora of advertising for the tech-supported surgeries often claimed without proof that the robot procedure led to fewer complications and ignored studies that showed no advantage to the surgical option in some cases.

According to Bloomberg, the robotic operations had not been shown by randomized trials to offer much greater health benefits than traditional, less-invasive surgeries. However, multiple studies did show that the robot-assisted procedures could cost patients thousands of dollars more.

Doctor negligence in North Carolina can lead to worsened conditions and even permanent disability. The advice and counsel of an attorney experienced in litigation following a medical malpractice may be able to help those affected by doctor or hospital error. An attorney might be of service when filing a lawsuit in cases of medical malpractice and seeking financial compensation for damages suffered by clients.

Source: Bloomberg, “Robot Surgery Damaging Patients Rises With Marketing“, Robert Langreth, October 07, 2013

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