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Serious injury and fatality linked to surgeries done by robots


Surgical procedures in Massachusetts and across the country are becoming more reliant on technology. With that comes the increased use of machines that need to be properly calibrated, operated and work correctly. Considering the fact that improper use of medical equipment can lead to worsened condition and even death, it is important to know how to move forward with an investigation to see why surgical errors happened and whether or not there was a mistake made with the manufacture or operation of the technology.

Records from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that 144 people died between 2000 and 2013 after undergoing surgery performed by robots. Among the surgeries, there are some that are considered more dangerous to the patients than others. Surgeries that are performed on the head and neck are included as are cardiothoracic surgeries. The risk for these is nearly 10 times higher than other surgical procedures. In recent years, the number of robotic surgeries has risen significantly. Many of these are for urological and gynecological procedures.

A database has looked into the procedures using reports from 2000 to 2013. That database discovered more than 10,000 reports of robotic procedures with 1,500 negatively influencing patient health. Since 2006, the number of times a fatal surgical error occurred increased 30 times. Since 2007, the statistics have remained relatively static. Equipment has sparked resulting in burns, broken pieces fell into patients' bodies, the equipment might have moved in an uncontrollable fashion and system errors happened.

Even though robots are technically performing the surgery that does not eliminate the responsibility of the doctors and medical professionals who are overseeing these pieces of equipment. The manufacturers of the equipment have a responsibility to ensure the technology works properly. If an error happens, the fault could fall to the manufacturer or those who are responsible for the machine itself. If there was a serious injury or death because of improper use of medical equipment, it is key to speak to a legal professional to decide on the next step.

Source: MIT Technology Review, "Robotic Surgery Linked To 144 Deaths Since 2000," July 20, 2015

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