Da Vinci Robot Lawsuits on the Rise
December 18, 2014
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As the popularity of the da Vinci robot rises, so do the reports of adverse events

Keeping up with the latest techniques and technologies is a crucial part of practicing medicine. The da Vinci surgical robot is the latest trend in surgery. During a robotic surgery, a physician sits at a console several feet from the patient and views the procedure through an HD display.  The physician controls the procedure using foot pedals and hand controls to maneuver the robots arms and surgical tools all guided by a 3-D camera that follows the tools inside the patient. 

The number of surgeries performed by these robots, manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, has seen a dramatic increase in the last ten years. The da Vinci robots have become increasingly popular amongst surgeons for routine procedures because it is believed that the robots are more precise, create smaller incisions and decrease recovery time.  Da Vinci robots performed more than 500,000 procedures in 2012 alone.


Despite their popularity among some physicians, the da Vinci robots are not always as wonderful as they seem. According to a study published by the Journal of American Medical Association, the da Vinci robot comes with quite the price tag yet offers little to no extra benefit to the patient than its traditional minimally invasive counterpart. Each da Vinci robot cost anywhere from $1.5 to $2.3 million per machine and comes with $150,000 to $250,000 in maintenance fees per year.

Da Vinci robots have caused many patients serious permanent injury and even death.  According to a study by the Journal for Healthcare Quality published in August of 2013 174 serious injuries and 71 deaths tied to the da Vinci robot were reported. Such injuries include:

            – laceration or burns to the colon or other parts of the intestine

            – torn blood vessels

            – bladder, ureter and urethra damage

            – nerve damage

            – vaginal cuff dehiscence 

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A number of lawsuits have been filed against Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of the da Vinci Robot, citing not only their failure to properly and sufficiently train doctors before they are allowed to use their robot on patients but also defective components of their machine. In one case filed in Washington state, Fred Taylor had his prostate removed via the da Vinci robot. The procedure went horribly wrong, causing kidney failure, brain damage, and a one inch long tear in his rectum. Taylor eventually died of heart failure. His family, who filed the case against the robot manufacturer, alleges that the company aggressively marketed the da Vinci robot to doctors and hospitals without providing sufficient.training in how to actually use it. Intuitive has suggested in at least one case that was filed that they had no duty to train surgeons to use their rather complicated device or even warn them of any risks. The doctor who performed the procedure on Fred Taylor had never used the robot without supervision before Taylor’s surgery. 

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If you or someone you love has been seriously injured due to the da Vinci robot, please contact us today online or by calling (866) 709-0505. All consultations with one of our experienced medical device and malpractice attorneys are completely free and confidential. Know your rights