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Injuries, Deaths Mount While Professors Are Paid to Promote da Vinci Surgical Robot's Benefits and Downplay Risks

Sep 24, 2013

Two surgeons who hold professorships at the University of California, Irvine, have been promoting the use of the da Vinci Surgical Robot for years — while downplaying the potential risks associated with these surgeries.

According to the Orange County Register, the two surgeons have been working for a decade promoting the use of the da Vinci Surgical Robot, a device manufactured by Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive Surgical Inc. While these surgeons believe that using the da Vinci Surgical Robot is “the future” of medicine, they’ve also been getting paid by Intuitive Surgical, the “creator” of this so-called future, to promote its use.

Some UC-Irvine officials are wondering if ethics violations have been committed, since the school accepted money from Intuitive Surgical to, essentially, promote use of the da Vinci Surgical Robot with little evidence supporting that it can be used safely.

The two surgeons still receive money for promoting the da Vinci Surgical Robot and have been flown around the world to demonstrate it, or to rally Intuitive Surgical’s sales force, according to the Orange County Register.

We’ve been reporting extensively on the downsides of using the da Vinci Surgical Robot and have focused especially on the lack of scientific evidence to support the notion that a robotic surgical device is safer or more effective than traditional surgery.

In our reports on injuries sustained by people who’ve undergone da Vinci-assisted procedures, we have noted instances in which people’s internal organs or arteries have suffered tears, burns, and perforations. Such complications can lead to serious and potentially fatal injuries after da Vinci Surgical Robot-assisted surgery is performed.

The Orange County Register notes that while these surgeons have been promoting the use of the da Vinci Surgical Robot, reports of injuries and deaths linked to the device have risen considerably. There have been at least 71 deaths associated with the use of the da Vinci since 2000, according to the report.

In our previous accounts, we’ve noted that lawsuits filed against Intuitive Surgical have accused the company of downplaying the risks associated with using the da Vinci Surgical Robot, and we have also said that the company has rushed surgeons into using the device before they perhaps are ready by reducing their required training time on the device so they can start operating faster.

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