Since 2000, doctors have performed more than one million surgeries using robotic devices. Lately, the safety of these devices has been called into question, with a number of procedures resulting in significant patient injury or death. A new look at robotic surgeries puts the devices and the doctors that use them under even more scrutiny.
A team of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston reviewed complications involving robotic surgeries from 2006 to 2012. They recently presented their findings at a medical conference in Washington, D.C.
While using a relatively small sample size, what they found should give patients and medical care providers pause when considering robotic surgeries. The researchers reported that more than 30 percent of complications during robotic surgery were caused by either physician error or malfunction of the robotic device.
Over a Third of Surgery Mistakes Were Fault of Doctor or Robotic Device
To further break down the robotic surgery mistakes, 21 percent were due to errors made by the doctor during the procedure, while 14 percent were caused by a failure of the robot.
Of all the incidences when something went wrong during robotic surgeries, 8.5 percent resulted in the death of the patient.
While the concern over robotic surgeries and patient safety grows, so too do the number of such procedures. Beyond examining the hard data of patient complications, another reason for this new research apparently was to question the increasing reliance on the robotic technology. A report of the research by the ModernMedicine online network noted that “…the study was aimed at helping address concerns about the misperception that the use of the robot can ‘create a better surgeon.'”
While technology can boost patient care, it’s certainly not a panacea. Mistakes can and are made by doctors. The equipment they use can and do malfunction. When such errors result in harm to the patient, legal remedies can be sought to provide compensation for damages as well as help prevent such mistakes from being made in the future.