An internal review by the University of Illinois finds its decision to endorse a surgery tool pending da Vinci robot lawsuit litigation a violation of school policy, and is calling for clearer rules about commercial product promotion.

According to a ProPublica.org report from March 19th, the investigation followed a New York Times Magazine advertisement for the da Vinci Surgical System, a powerful healthcare technology used to aid in minimally-invasive surgeries. A number of doctors from the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System were depicted above the headline, “We believe in da Vinci surgery because our patients benefit,” which they considered “free publicity” for their program.

The Times ad was supposed to run in 11 magazines, according to the review, but was pulled by Intuitive Surgical after a former chief executive of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center posted several blogs accusing IUC of breaking policies.

According to the university, neither the Office for University Relations, nor the Ethics Office had approved the hospital employees’ participation in the ad, as is required by IUC. The Chief Operating Officer of the Medical Center was not consulted either, which is also violates certain regulations.

IUC Pays $4.6 Million to Intuitive over Two Years

There was also the question of whether University of Illinois surgeons were being paid by Intuitive to appear in the ad, which they were found to not have been. According to the review, “There were no fraudulent attempts to hide any associations between faculty and Intuitive Surgical.”

The hospital has paid its fair share to Intuitive, however. Over the past two years, IUC has paid a total of $4.6 million in company products, including a da Vinci Surgical System for $2.2 million.

These revelations come amid mounting concerns over the robot, not to mention a number of product liability claims filed against Intuitive. According to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), at least 76 lawsuits had been filed in federal courts throughout the U.S. by individuals who may have suffered robotic surgery complications. These da Vinci robot lawsuits include allegations of cut ureters, surgical burns and tears to arteries, bowel injuries and even death, court documents indicate.

In the end, University officials agree that the Times ad made the need for clearer rules about product promotion that much more pressing. “We needed a more fulsome discussion as to what we were going to do, and what policies would affect that and whether it was something worth doing,” an IUC spokesperson said.

Filing a da Vinci Robot Lawsuit

For more about filing a da Vinci robot lawsuit, and whether you may be eligible to pursue a claim against Intuitive, call our Firm now at (877) 779-1414.

Published March 20, 2014 by