Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Surgery error may have been caused by surgical robot

Sometimes medical technology is tried without being truly tested. A 24-year old woman recently died due to a surgical error while having a hysterectomy. Yet what appears to have caused the woman's death were the actions of a surgical robot - the types that are being used throughout the country including Pennsylvania hospitals.

The woman's father has now brought a wrongful death action against Intuitive Surgery, Inc., the manufacturer of the robot. It is alleged that the robot caused burns to an artery and intestines of the woman that resulted in her death some two weeks after the surgery was performed.

There are various allegations being made in this case related to product defects in the manufacture of the robot. It is being alleged that the manufacturer hid reports concerning complications occurring from use of such robots. However, this may be more than a product liability suit in that there are instances where the surgeon using the robot was negligent in its operation - and it is alleged that this may have been the case in the woman's death as well, and this could thus result in a medical malpractice claim as well.

Such a case is complicated because it straddles two diverse areas of law, and it may require the handling of a well experienced attorney in both areas to prove up such a claim. Such an attorney is going to have to establish the role of the product, the role of the doctor and other relevant factors.

In any case, a 24-year old woman should not die as the result of a common surgical procedure. Perhaps her father's lawsuit will establish what happened here and prevent such errors from being repeated.

Source: The Business Journals, "Intuitive Surgical Sued in New York for Death Arising out of use of its da Vinci Robot," by Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, McCartney & Giuffra, LLP, April 4, 2012

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