Surgery Robots: How Advancing Technology Helps And Harms Patients

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Full length of female patient lying on bed in operation room

Like all other technology, medical advancements are happening at a record pace. One of the most exciting developments of the last decade has been the rise of medical or surgical robots, which can perform complicated and delicate surgeries which were previously delegated to the most skilled surgeons.

While robot surgery may sound like something out of science fiction, the use of these machines in the operating room is becoming commonplace. But how safe are medical robots? How much control do surgeons have over the procedures, and what happens if something goes wrong?

Benefits of Robot Surgery

Robotic surgery was developed to solve many of the problems of traditional surgeries. The robots work by allowing the surgeon to sit behind a large screen and control the robot’s “arms,” making the machine an extension of the surgeon.

When surgery is required on a small, confined area, like the back of the throat, robotic surgery allows the surgeon to have a large view of the tiny space, and can result in a quicker, more effective surgery. In addition, a robot can be calibrated to make incredibly tiny and precise movements during surgery which may be next to impossible for human hands.

In addition to the technical benefits to the surgeon, robotic surgery also requires smaller incisions and fewer cuts, which allows a patients to heal much faster, and theoretically, suffer fewer complications than compared to traditional surgery.

Risks of Robotic Surgery

All new technology starts with a series of problems and glitches. Unfortunately for surgical patients, these glitches can result in serious medical complications.

As the use of surgical robots has increased, so too have the number of reported problems. First among these problems is the risk of mechanical error. The manufacturers of several leading surgical robots are facing over 50 products liability lawsuits based on their machines malfunctioning during surgery.

Besides the risk of mechanical error, the best-performing robot is only as effective as the surgeon controlling it. Without adequate training and practice, a surgeon is susceptible to making mistakes which can injure the patient on the operating table.

In addition, these machines take up a significant amount of room in the operating theater, and it can be difficult for doctors or nurses to observe what is happening on the table. When the machine hits an artery, tears a blood vessel, or nicks a delicate organ, surgical staff may not notice or be able to treat the problem until serious complications have occurred.

Finally, robotic surgery generally takes a very long time to complete. For example, robotic heart surgery may take nearly twice as long as traditional open heart surgery, which requires the patients to stay under general anesthesia for much longer than would normally be required. This additional time anesthetized increases the risk for complications and anesthesia errors.

While advancements in medical technology can be extraordinarily beneficial for patients, these advancements are not without risks. When new techniques cause injury or complications, the surgeons, doctors, and medical staff responsible can be liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

When your injury lawsuit relies on complicated medical evidence, you need an attorney who understands the medicine as well as the law. Attorney Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., is both a doctor and a lawyer, and he and his team of dedicated legal and medical professionals use their expertise to help you get justice after an injury.

For a free consultation at the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., call us today at (310) 289-2600 or use our online contact form to have your case reviewed for free.

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