update Study Shows Increased Costs of da Vinci Robot Surgery

At least one study shows that medical outcomes of using a da Vinci surgical robot are often the same despite the robot surgery’s significantly greater costs, according to research featured in the January 2014 edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology journal. The Rottenstein Law Group LLP comments on the recently published study and notes how other studies have shown added side effects resulting from robot surgery.

The study, “Robotic Compared With Laparoscopic Sacrocolpopexy: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” compared two different methods for performing surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse in women: laparoscopic (the more common method) and robotic sacrocolpopexy. It found that the outcomes and complications were similar, but that the robotic surgery using devices such as the da Vinci incurred a greater expense. This, the study said, was largely because of the expense of purchasing and maintaining the device.

This is not the only cost, however. There is also the potential cost to the patient’s well-being. In early December 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that da Vinci maker Intuitive Surgical had notified its customers of a malfunction during surgery that potentially put patients at risk, according to a Dec. 4 Bloomberg story. Friction in one of the device’s arms would cause the tools to stall, the story said. In the first ten months of 2013, the FDA received nearly 4,000 adverse event reports, ranging from claims of injury to death, according to a Nov. 11 Businessweek article.

“The potential risks associated with this type of surgery have been well-documented, and we hear about them often from those interested in receiving compensation for the harms they have suffered,” said Rochelle Rottenstein, principal of the Rottenstein Law Group LLP, which represents clients in da Vinci surgical robot lawsuits. “Even though this study focuses more on the financial risks for a medical facility, it does add to a growing body of evidence supporting claims about the overall risks associated with this new technology.”

The da Vinci system usually features four robotic arms with precision surgical tools and a camera, designed to seemingly allow a surgeon to perform procedures such as prostate removals and hysterectomies less invasively than in the past. However, the robot system has been found to cause potentially dangerous side effects, such as internal burns, nerve damage and lacerations, according to Bloomberg.


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