The da Vinci surgical robot, manufactured by Intuitive Surgery, is used as a surgical alternative for several different procedures including,
- Complete or partial hysterectomies
- Treatment of uterine fibroids
- Kidney disorders
- Prostate removal procedures
- Throat and kidney cancers
- Heavy intrauterine bleeding
- Surgeries to reduce obesity
Intuitive Surgery claims that procedures using the da Vinci surgical robot is as safe as laparoscopic surgery and also reduces the recovery time in many patients. However, there are no conclusive studies that show whether or not the da Vinci robot surgery is safer than other options.
In December 2013, the Food and Drug Administration issued a Class II recall, which indicates a device may cause “temporary or medical reversible” health problems. The recall involved more than 1300 devices, due to the fact that the friction with the instrument arms can stall, causing harm to the patient.
Before the December recall, in July 2013, the FDA recalled around 30 machine instruments asserting they were not properly tested before distribution into the marketplace.
There have been close to 400,000 da Vinci surgeries performed each year. Close to 4,000 reports of death or injury have been reported in the year 2013 alone.
Injuries attributed to the use of the da Vinci robot surgical device include:
- Lacerations to internal organs, including intestines
- Burns to internal organs and blood vessels
- Excessive bleeding
- Nerve damage
- Severe bowel injuries
- Punctured blood vessels or ureters
- Various vaginal injuries
The da Vinci surgical robot is still being sold and used in hospitals throughout the United States.
Lawsuit Claimants on the Rise
In July of 2013, a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed over 30 lawsuits were filed against Intuitive Surgery asserting severe and permanent damages because of the da Vinci Surgical System.