Intuitive Surgical, Inc. disclosed last month that it has been named in more than 30 robotic surgery lawsuits involving the da Vinci Surgical System.  The latest such claim was filed by a woman from New Jersey who alleges that electrical arcing from the tip of a da Vinci instrument caused her to suffer chronic abdominal pain and serious bowel issues.

According to a report from NJ.com, news of the recent filing comes just weeks after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) faulted Intuitive Surgical for not being clear enough when instructing surgeons about the proper way to clean off the robot’s instruments.  Apparently some patients had suffered da Vinci complications after surgeons scrapped instruments against each other to clean them.  “This led to tears or holes in protective tip covers that led to arcing,” the agency said.

In May, Intuitive Surgical warned of another instrument issue that could also result in electrical arcing, an occurrence that may cause surgical burns.  According to the company’s May 8th Urgent Medical Device Notification, certain models of its Endowrist Monopolar Scissors may contain microcracks that could allow electricity to leak from the instruments.   Intuitive  has provided replacements to hospitals.

Da Vinci Lawsuit Claims Intuitive Failed to Warn of Arcing Problem

According to NJ.com, the recently filed robot surgery lawsuit is the first in New Jersey over injuries allegedly caused by the da Vinci.  The 45-year-old plaintiff claims the company was aware that electricity could jump from the instrument tips, but failed to provide a timely warning to doctors and hospitals.  Notably, the lawsuit does not name either the plaintiff’s doctor or hospital, as she maintains it was Intuitive’s responsibility to warn them of the alleged issue.

In its most recent earnings report, Intuitive Surgical acknowledged that it had been named in 33 da Vinci lawsuits that allege injuries due to defects in the robot and/or inadequate surgeon training.   The company also disclosed that sales of the da Vinci – its primary product – were slowing.  According to one analyst interviewed by Bloomberg.com, some of the slowdown could be due to the fact that “people who pay for the surgery are stepping in and questioning whether the robots are worth the extra cost.”

It is true that the da Vinci robot has been plagued in recent months by concerns over its safety and efficacy.  In January, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began to survey doctors who use the robot, following a spike in reports of robotic surgery complications to the agency.  According to Bloomberg.com, those reports doubled in the first six months of 2013 compared with a year earlier, and have included 70 fatalities since 2009.

Injured in Robotic Surgery? Consider Filing a Da Vinci Lawsuit.

If you sustained serious injuries during a robotic surgery procedure that involved the da Vinci Surgical System, you may be entitled to compensation from Intuitive Surgical.  To learn more about filing da Vinci lawsuit, please contact Bernstein Liebhard LLP today by call 1-877-779-1414.

Published August 7, 2013 by