It seems that robots designed to assist surgeons in certain operations are becoming more human every day. A recent incident reported involved the most classic of surgical errors: retained surgical instrument.
Roughly 80% of all robot-assisted operations are gynecologic in nature, such as hysterectomies. The most recent adverse event which captured the media’s assistance was the case of a Portland woman who complained of chronic abdominal pain shortly after having a da Vinci robot-assisted hysterectomy in 2012. After months of enduring the pain and going through a whole gamut of treatments, it was finally discovered through an X-ray that a metallic piece from the robot had broken off and had been left behind. It seemed too incredible to be true.
There were 367,000 procedures done using the da Vinci Surgical System in 2012, and a relatively small number of adverse events have been reported with its use, certainly not much different for what has been reported for a relatively similar approach using a laparoscopy, which is also minimally invasive. But because Intuitive Surgical Inc., manufacturer of the da Vinci robot, had made such glowing announcements about the technology, people expected much more than the system could deliver. Moreover, there were implied and expressed guarantees to surgeons reluctant to try the system that led to preventable surgical errors arising from inadequate training in its use.
According to the National Injury Law Center, many of the patients who had a negative experience with the da Vinci system had to have additional surgery to rectify surgical injuries; and those were the fortunate ones. Others had irreparable damage done, leaving them with diminished capacities. Some have even led to death. While any surgery carries risks, the use of robot-assisted technology has opened up new vistas in surgical errors, which is why Intuitive is being sued for these injuries rather than the surgeons or hospitals.
For good reason, medical professionals are among the most highly-trained groups of people. Their successes and failures are often matters of life and death, where anything between a lapse in memory to a small mistake can make a huge difference in whether a patient survives. Doctors are trained to take the correct actions during medical emergencies, but sometimes the pressure of knowing another human being’s life is in their hands can cause them to waver and make poor decisions. When such a poor decision leads to the patient sustaining an injury, the doctor could possibly be held accountable for his or her mistake in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Because medicine is a complex and ever-changing field, medical malpractice can occur in many ways. Generally, however, for an accusation of malpractice to be valid, a doctor must have behaved in a way that is contrary to what most other doctors would have feasibly done when presented with a similar situation. Malpractice can be something as subtle as misdiagnosing the patient to something as blatantly incorrect as performing a surgery in the wrong place.
Medical malpractice can result in severe, life-threatening, permanent injuries to its victims. For example, doctors perform surgeries in the wrong place with astonishing frequency, which can be devastating in cases of amputation. Amputating the wrong limb means the correct one still needs to be removed, leaving the patient’s life altered in a way he or she never imagined. Receiving the wrong diagnosis can have similar consequences, as the patient’s condition may worsen while receiving treatments for an ailment he or she does not have.
It’s important for patients to do everything in their power to remain informed about the treatments being offered by their medical professionals. This can help prevent mix-ups that shouldn’t ever happen such as pharmaceutical errors. If your doctor’s course of action is making you uncomfortable, you should consider getting an opinion from another physician to protect and reassure yourself.
If you believe you are a victim of medical malpractice, contact a New Hampshire Medical Malpractice Attorney today. A lawyer will be able to guide you through the complexities of your case in this difficult time.