Robotic Surgery: Medical Malpractice or Product Liability?
When one gets injured while under the surgical knife, the first thing that comes to mind is medical malpractice. But what if the knife was actually being wielded by a robot? This is more likely to fall under product liability if the injury is a result of a manufacturing or design defect rather than surgical error.
Science fiction has once again become simply science with the growing popularity of robotic surgery. There are many advantages to using robots in surgery. Aside from the wow factor, robot arms don’t get tired even after hours of surgery, so there are fewer accidents that happen on the operating table. Using robots also allows surgeons to be more precise when they work, which is important when dealing in micro-millimeters rather than centimeters. It also makes invasive procedures less so by requiring smaller incisions.
The technology has been around for some time, and many hospitals are jumping on the bandwagon because it looks good on their brochures to offer such high technology options to their patients. Unfortunately, there are some bugs to the technology that has led to some serious injuries to patients. The most well-known robot assistant in surgery is the da Vinci surgical system manufactured by Intuitive Surgical Inc., which is being sued by at least 25 patients for a variety of injuries caused by burns. Although it may be intimidating to go against such a big company, taking legal action in such cases is the responsible thing to do.
According to the website of Jeff Sampson, these cases are considered product liability lawsuits. Product liability is an area of law that focuses on protecting people from dangerous products. These products could be poorly designed, malfunctional, defective, or mislabeled. When they cause undue injury to ordinary people, their manufacturers can be held accountable.
It is also posited that some of the problems that may accrue from robotic surgery is related to the steep learning curve from using the technology. Doctors are simply not trained well enough to use the technology effectively, and robotic surgery is not yet well regulated. Patients who are considering robotic surgery should do their research regarding the need for such precise surgery, the consequences, and the expertise of their surgeon with the technology before consenting to the procedure.
If you have already sustained injuries due to robotic surgery, consult with a personal injury in your area to determine if your case falls under medical malpractice or product liability. Your lawyer will know how to proceed depending on the findings.