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Severe Injuries Resulted from da Vinci Surgical Robot, New Jersey Woman Claims

Aug 9, 2013

A New Jersey woman is the latest to claim that she was injured during a surgery using the da Vinci Surgical Robot.

The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger is reporting that the woman has filed a lawsuit against Intuitive Surgical Inc. She claims that during her surgery, arcing from one of the tips on the surgical arms caused her to suffer serious internal injuries. Her complaint alleges that she now faces severe abdominal pain as well as bowel injuries as a result of the product defect.

The complaint further alleges that Intuitive Surgical is at fault — and not the woman’s doctor or the hospital where the surgery was performed — because the maker of the da Vinci surgical robot failed to properly warn them of these safety issues. In fact, the complaint points to inspection reports from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that reveal Intuitive routinely failed to notify the public about new instructions it had given surgeons and hospitals regarding the surgical robot’s care and transport. The lawsuit further alleges that the company failed to tell surgeons and hospitals of this potential problem in a timely manner. It is also claimed that not all previous purchasers and da Vinci-trained surgeons were even notified of the defect, according to The Star-Ledger and our previous reporting.

The da Vinci surgical robot’s safety and cost effectiveness have also fallen under scrutiny, as we’ve reported. Earlier this year, U.S. regulators started surveying surgeons about the robots on the heels of a rise in adverse event reports that included as many as 70 deaths since 2009.

The Star-Ledger reports there are more than two dozen additional lawsuits pending against Intuitive Surgical, all of which make similar claims to this New Jersey woman’s complaint.

We've been reporting on many of the setbacks experienced by recipients of da Vinci-assisted surgical procedures.

In addition to the risk of severe bowel injuries, we've also noted that some patients of surgery that leveraged the da Vinci have suffered other serious injuries, including burns and tears of the intestines, punctured blood vessels and excessive bleeding. And for some, the procedure ultimately proved fatal.

Intuitive’s surgical robotic system, used in more than 1,300 hospitals, is the company’s flagship product. Cancer surgery, hysterectomies and gall bladder removals are among the main procedures performed with the assistance of the surgical robot, which cost about $1.5 million each, according to previous reports.

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