Surgical robots increase accuracy, efficiency and recovery time for surgical procedures, but mechanical problems and human errors pose injury risks for patients that can lead to medical malpractice or product liability lawsuits.
As advancements in innovative technologies like robotics increase, robotic surgery has become more common in hospitals and medical facilities across the country. During a robotic surgery, a physician controls a special surgical device or machine that performs surgical procedures on a patient. With the help of a three-dimensional camera and special tools, the robotic device can make incisions, remove body parts, and rearrange tissues and internal organs. Surgical robots have become popular tools for patients who need hernia repairs, gastrointestinal procedures, and removal of growths and tumors.
Robotic surgeries provide benefits for both hospitals and patients. The use of surgical robots increases surgical accuracy and efficiency, reduces blood loss for patients, lowers infection risks from incisions, and speeds up patient recovery time, so patients can go home sooner after surgery. However, robotic surgeries are not without risks from both human and mechanical errors. Between 2000 and 2013, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) reported 1,400 injuries and 140 deaths from robotic surgical procedures. FDA reports show that most injuries and fatalities were caused by surgeon errors or mechanical errors during robotic surgical procedures.
FDA reports show that many serious injuries and fatalities during robotic surgeries are the results of human errors made by the surgeon performing the surgical procedure. Common surgeon errors include:
- Improper operation of the robotic equipment
- Improper identification of necessary procedures for the patient’s surgery
- Moving the robotic arms to the wrong parts of the patient’s body
- Misreading the camera view that shows required treatment procedures
Mechanical errors also pose many significant injury and fatality risks for patients who undergo robotic surgical procedures. Common mechanical errors include:
- Electrical sparking of the robotic device
- Pieces of robotic tools left in a patient’s body after surgery
- Unintentional movements by the robotic device
Mechanical problems with robotic surgical devices can result in serious injuries to patients such as burns and electrical shock, bacterial infections, internal cuts and punctures, and internal bleeding. Robotic surgical devices must be meticulously maintained to prevent injuries. They must be regularly tested and calibrated to make sure they are working properly and sterilized to prevent infections. Failure to maintain robotic surgical equipment can cause injuries that result in medical malpractice against a hospital or medical facility. Injuries caused by mechanical problems can result in product liability claims.
Da Vinci robot surgery has been around for years now, but there are legitimate causes for patient safety concerns. Surgical robots are not intended to replace physicians, but they are useful in performing certain medical procedures that require specific skills. They are intended to make surgeries more productive and efficient for hospitals and less invasive for patients. However, humans make mistakes and machines malfunction. Both of these conditions put patients at increased risk of injury and death. Patients should be fully informed of robotic surgery risks before proceeding with surgery.
Nevada Personal Injury Claims for Robotic Surgery Errors
Personal injury claims allege that a person or company is responsible for causing injuries. When medical-related injuries occur, claims for medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death are commonly filed with a Nevada personal injury lawyer. A patient who has been injured may seek damages through the Nevada courts. Damages may be awarded for lost wages, medical and rehabilitation expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages if neglect was intentional. In product liability lawsuits, the manufacturer of the defective product, as well as other individuals responsible for placing the product for public use, may be held liable for damages. Nevada product liability laws serve to protect patients and consumers from injuries caused by defective products.
Nevada has laws that govern filing requirements for personal injury lawsuits, as well as insurance settlements. Specific state guidelines must be followed:
- The statue of limitations states that personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years after the date of an injury. If it is filed after the two-year deadline has passed, Nevada courts may refuse to hear the case, and the injury claim may be barred from future filings.
- Personal injury claims are filed in civil court and must be filed in the jurisdiction where the injury occurred or where the defendant lives. If a claim is filed in the wrong court or county, the court may dismiss the claim and fine the plaintiff.
- Claims less than $5,000 may be filed in a Nevada Justice Court, a small claims court, while claims that exceed $10,000 must be filed in a Nevada District Court.