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Benefits of robotic surgery still carry risk of errors

For Arizona residents facing surgery in the abdominal area, a relatively new medical advancement offers a number of benefits. However, the robotic devices now in use by some surgeons are being reviewed by the FDA following several incidents that have spurred medical malpractice lawsuits.

Robotic surgery has been hailed by many physicians as both more cost-effective and safe than traditional laparoscopic surgery. Laparoscopy is surgery typically performed on the abdomen through a small incision. With less tissue trauma, outcomes may be improved in several ways, including less pain and reliance on pain medicines, reduced blood loss and reduced time in the hospital. Robotic devices such as the da Vinci take laparoscopy a step further by allowing a wider range of movement and requiring fewer people.

Physicians undergo a lengthy training process prior to receiving the privilege of using robotic surgical devices. The process includes classroom training, hands-on practice with animals and surgical proctoring at a hospital. Despite this process, surgical errors do occur. Some medical malpractice lawsuits have charged that the surgeons were not trained sufficiently. A gynecologist familiar with laparoscopic procedures emphasized the importance of patients learning about the physician's amount of experience with the relevant surgery.

The title of medical doctor and the privilege of using specialized devices often leads to an assumption that physicians have the training and capacity to perform surgery safely. As some have learned through the difficulty of experiencing serious injury or death of a loved one, formal training and titles are not always guarantees of skill. Patients or their families may be able to receive compensation for their medical expenses and suffering with the assistance of an Arizona medical malpractice attorney.

Source: Standard Examiner, "Ogden doctor: Most robotic surgery woes linked to human error", Jamie Lampros, April 27, 2013

*Certified Specialist in Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation by the State Bar of Arizona, Board of Legal Specialization