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California Woman Claims da Vinci Surgical Robot Changed Life for the Worse

Mar 5, 2013

A recently filed lawsuit in a California court details injuries caused by the da Vinci surgical robot.

According to a Bloomberg report, a woman who was told that a gynecological surgery she was facing would be best performed using the da Vinci surgery robot because it was the “the latest, greatest” way to do it has filed the latest lawsuit by a person to be severely and permanently injured because it was used.

The da Vinci robot is manufactured by Intuitive Surgical Inc. and its use in common surgical settings has grown exponentially in the last decade. The company has been busy marketing the expensive robot to hospitals, encouraging each to buy one to stay competitive in an ever-competitive field. The da Vinci robot, they say, is a less-invasive and safer means or conducting common surgeries and after hospitals agree to purchase them, they’re encouraged to use it to recover its cost.

Though surgeries are typically more expensive using the da Vinci robot as opposed to the traditional means, the company touts the less-invasive nature of the procedure and states that patients face a shorter stay in the hospital after a surgery. These were not the scenarios faced by this California woman and at least 9 others who have filed injury lawsuits against the company in the last 14 months, according to Bloomberg.

Michelle Zarick says that excessive vaginal bleeding caused her to visit her doctor, who found a growth inside her uterus. To remove and correct the problem, he suggested the use of the surgical robot. While the surgery appeared to go well, five weeks later Zarick got an indication that something had gone horribly wrong. After feeling something pop while she was in the bathroom, she realized that her intestine had protruded from her vagina.

Four years after that original surgery, Zarick has undergone corrective procedures that have put a scar that ranges between her hips, damaged her rectal muscles that leaves her constipated, and has suffered from a diminished libido. She told Bloomberg, “It forever changed my life for the worse.”

Bloomberg has analyzed adverse event reports collected by the federal government and found at least 70 reports of death that appear linked to the use of the da Vinci surgical robot. Just 10 people so far have filed lawsuits against the company that manufactures it.

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