Another claim has been added to the growing number of Da Vinci Surgery Robot lawsuits that allege the device caused patients to suffer surgical burns and other serious injuries during procedures. The complaint, which was filed on November 21st in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges use of the Da Vinci robot during her hysterectomy and gall bladder removal procedure caused the plaintiff to suffer a vesicovaginal fistula and infection.

The Da Vinci Surgery Robot was brought to market by Intuitive Surgical in 2000, and promises to give surgeons a range of movement greater than the human hand. The machine allows a surgeon to view a virtual reality representation of a patient’s internal organs. Surgeries are performed via the manipulation of the robot’s four metal arms with hand and foot controls.

Today, the Da Vinci Robot is used at thousands of hospitals in a wide range of laparoscopic surgeries, including hysterectomies, gall bladder removal, prostate removal, heart surgeries, and thyroid procedures. Much of Intuitive’s success in marketing the Da Vinci robot is due to the company’s promises that use of the technology will result in less blood loss, much smaller scars and a faster recovery for patients.

However, some medical experts have recently voiced concerns that the robot is being overused, without any evidence that it provides patients with additional benefits over traditional laparoscopy. Among other things, they point out that studies assessing the safety and effectiveness of the robot lag. Critics have also complained that doctors aren’t receiving adequate training on the machine. For example, The Seattle Times recently reported that more than 12 years after the Da Vinci robot hit the market, there is still no industry standard for training and credentialing of doctors to use the device.

According to the California lawsuit, the plaintiff agreed to proceed with a Da Vinci hysterectomy and gall bladder removal after viewing marketing materials for the machine, and when her doctors promised the device would allow her a faster recovery. The complaint alleges that due to injuries she sustained during her Da Vinci Robot procedure, she now suffers from cramping and bladder problems, and has been unable to sustain a normal intimate relationship with her husband.

The lawsuit further alleges the Da Vinci Robot poses an increased risk of serious injury, including organ damage, surgical burns, and torn blood vessels. Among other things, the complaint charges that Intuitive Surgical induced hospitals to purchase Da Vinci robots by creating a fear in their minds that if they did not offer the technology they would lose business to competitors. Finally, the lawsuit alleges that Intuitive does not adequately train physicians on use of the robot, thereby inducing them to cause complications and injuries.

Published December 12, 2012 by