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Medical robots raising safety questions

Medical technology keeps advancing, and most doctors and healthcare professionals consider these advances beneficial for patients. However, cases of medical malpractice have been reported involving one new and widely used technology: the robotic multi-armed da Vinci, used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in 2012.

The robotic system has been linked with reports of deaths and injuries as well as elevated costs over other forms of surgery. Some doctors are concerned that there was too much advertising and hype associated with the introduction of robotic arm surgery and not enough research to support its use or to show that it is more effective than other, cheaper surgical methods.

Robotic arms are used in removing gallbladders and performing hysterectomies and prostate surgery. Robots also assisted in heart valve surgery, gastro-intestinal surgery and organ transplants. Surgeons control the robotic arm from a computer screen. Patients are expected to have less bleeding and recover more quickly with robotic surgery than with traditional surgical methods. However, at least five deaths have been reported from robotic surgery and other injuries such as perforation of organs or blood vessels.

Those who have been injured in any way during surgery or by any other medical procedure may have the right to collect monetary damages from those responsible for their physical, mental and emotional distress. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to help the victims of healthcare injuries collect compensation from those responsible for their trauma, including payment of additional medical bills and a sum to repay them for their pain and suffering.

Source: Chron, "Robot hot among surgeons but FDA taking a fresh look," Lindsey Tanner, April 9, 2013

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