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Autonomous robot surgery might be on the horizon

Human error is the cause that is cited in a variety of accidents. Surgial incidents aren't any exception to that. In fact, surgeons making errors account for many of the incidents that cause harm to patients. A new advance might change that. A recent study done at Children's National Medical Center highlights the use of autonomous robots that are performing surgical procedures under the watchful eye of a human.

The team that performed the study supervised the robot while it was doing a soft-tissue surgery. The robot stitched together the small bowel of a pig. It was noted that the robot did the procedure better than a surgeon. Some people are arguing that robot surgeons could improve patient safety and satisfaction.

The case for these robots is that patients could have a consistent experience. It wouldn't matter what surgeon was on call when you need a procedure done, the robot would handle it without having to worry about fatigue or human errors in the operating room.

While some people might arugue that robots don't have a place in the operating room, robots are already hard at work there. The da Vinci Surgical System is only one example of a robot that is being used in complex surgical procedures. It is the hope of people who are working toward robot surgeons that robots will move beyond an assistive role and move into something more along the line of a primary role.

The introduction of robots into the operating room in a primary role is likely years away. Ethical questions, as well as other concerns, must be considered before that can happen. For now, patients will have to take the risk of falling victim to a surgical error. When that happens, the patient might seek compensation.

Source: CNN, "Would you let a robot perform your surgery by itself?," Meera Senthilingam, accessed June 27, 2016

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