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Surgical errors involving robotic technology go unreported

Over the past decade or so, technology has revolutionized healthcare, especially surgery. While doctors are prone to human error, robots are thought to bypass this risk and complete operations more accurately and more safely. However, surgical errors still occur during robotic operations and patients remain at risk of serious, even deadly, accidents.

In order to reduce the number of surgical errors and to remedy the robotic flaws that cause them, researches must have sufficient data. But a recent study found robotic surgical errors are going unreported. Johns Hopkins University researchers found several stories of surgical errors involving robot technology in the media, but that went unreported to the FDA. FDA data shows of the 1 million robotic surgeries performed since 2000, only 245 of complications occurred. Yet, with instances going unreported, it is unclear how safe these operations really are.

Of the complications studied, researchers found the deadliest operation errors were gynecologic, urologic, and cardiothoracic. Of those errors causing non-life-threatening harm, hysterectomy operations had the most complications, making up 43 percent of injuries. Another problem with analyzing the data is it is difficult to determine which errors are attributable to the robotic technology and which is attributable to doctor error.

With limited data to paint a clear picture of the safety of robotic surgeries, individuals should be aware these operations can be dangerous and may leave an individual with serious injuries. One who is harmed by a surgical error may be left permanently disabled, unable to do activities they once enjoyed, and may experience extreme pain both physically and emotionally.

A surgical error may give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit. By suing a doctor and the hospital he works at, a surgical error victim can seek to recover compensation for his damages. Winning a case may bring awards for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages, which may make life post-injury a little easier.

However, these cases are often complicated and require thorough legal analysis of negligence and causation. An experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney will fight for his client's rights and to prove a doctor or hospital's actions fell below the standard of care owed to the client, and that failure led to the client's injuries.

Source: Health Data Management, "Hopkins Researches Say Robot Events May Be Underreported," Greg Goth, Sep. 20, 2013

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