Our law firm is handling da Vinci robotic surgery medical malpractice lawsuits. Do you have a claim or a question? Call 800-553-8082 or get a free on-line consultation.da Vinci Overview
Even after centuries of medical advances, technology has never been able to account for human error – but not for lack of trying. The da Vinci Surgical System is a four-armed robot designed to give surgeons greater control and precision during operations. The device resembles a video game – using joystick controls and foot pedals, the surgeon maneuvers robotic arms inside the patient to perform intricate surgeries. Although da Vinci has helped doctors successfully perform a variety of difficult operations, ranging from cancer and kidney to esophageal and cardiac surgeries, the device is not perfect. There are risks that da Vinci will malfunction, and as the saying goes, the tool is only as good as its user. So how would a patient injured by a da Vinci device bring a lawsuit?da Vinci Malpractice Claims
Injured patients can also seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim. Under medical malpractice, patients will generally claim negligence, alleging that a health care provider made a mistake that caused the injury. For example, patients might argue that the doctor improperly operated the device, or that the nurse improperly prepared the surgical equipment. Alternatively, the patient might also allege that the doctor received inadequate training – there are accounts of hospitals pressuring doctors into using the da Vinci system although they were not prepared. Some doctors estimate that it can take up to 750 surgeries to proficiently use the device.
Although product liability and medical malpractice are legally independent, because it is often difficult to tell whether a product defect or health care provider negligence cased the injury, in many cases both claims will need to be brought simultaneously.
According to an November, 2013 study involving gynecology patients, 21% of robotic surgery complications involved a doctor's screw-up. Another 14% of problems involved some failure by the robot itself. So that tells us malpractice is probably 50% more likely to be the cause they an problem with the machine itself.DaVinci Malpractice Settlements and Verdicts
Below are stories of cases where the surgeon or medical team made a mistake during a daVinci procedure.
- 2020, Virginia: $950,000 Settlement. A 57-year-old man underwent a robotic radical prostatectomy to treat his prostate cancer. The surgeon used a da Vinci Surgical System. They placed him in the Trendelenburg lithotomy position, a head-down position that resembles the position a woman is in while giving birth. The procedure took about seven hours. Upon waking up, he experienced severe pain in his calves. An orthopedic surgeon was consulted, who ruled out compartment syndrome. The man ultimately sustained a crush injury during the surgery. His pain continued, and he developed Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome. He now suffered from severe, permanent chronic pain and dysesthesia. The man filed suit, claiming that the surgeon negligently padded and positioned him in a way that caused his crush injury that resulted in CRPS.
- 2018, Pennsylvania: $345,000 Settlement. An 81-year-old woman died of a post-surgical infection after a surgeon used a da Vinci Surgical System to repair a ventral hernia. The hospital eventually dismissed the surgeon. She suffered several bowel perforations. Her family filed a lawsuit alleging that the hospital was vicariously negligent for its surgeon, who failed to take the woman back to surgery once she suffered hypotension and biliary drainage. They also alleged that surgeon perforated the bowel multiple times during lysis of adhesions surgery and failed to get informed consent to perform a laparoscopic lysis of adhesions beyond the ventral hernia repair..
- 2018, Indiana: $790,000 Settlement. A woman underwent an electric laparoscopic surgery to remove a femoral nerve schwannoma tumor. The surgeon used a da Vinci Surgical System to perform the surgery. The woman suffered permanent hip, neck, and knee impairments as well as emotional distress. She asserted a lack of informed consent claim and noted her $250,000 settlement from Intuitive, da Vinci's manufacturer.
- 2017, Michigan: $1,500,000 Settlement. A woman underwent a hysterectomy that included lymph node dissection. This followed her endometrial cancer diagnosis. During the procedure, her inferior vena cava was accidentally lacerated, which exacerbated what was to be a procedure to repair a relatively minor injury. The surgical team attempted to control the bleeding by infusing at about 20 liters of blood. They consulted vascular surgeons, anesthesiologists, and a cardiothoracic surgeon. The trauma team stapled her iliac veins to control the bleeding. Once they restored the iliac artery's blood flow, they performed four compartment fasciotomies to treat congestion in the woman's lower extremities. They left her abdomen open to prevent compartment syndrome that might be caused by severe bowel edema. This caused excessive hemorrhage that resulted in a myocardial infarction, acute respiratory failure, acute kidney failure, liver shock, and fluid overload. She also suffered encephalopathy that caused a change in her mental status. The woman was also re-intubated for shortness of breath and received treatment for pneumonia, urosepsis, kidney failure, and septic shock. She was in and out of rehabilitation facilities and hospitals for several months for an infection, bacteremia, and gangrene to her right foot. Her right foot would ultimately be amputated. Her experts testified that the surgical team violated the standard of care, which included performing a hysterectomy for a complex case like hers, failing to recognize the size of her pre-operative uterus in their decision to use a da Vinci Surgical System, and delaying calls for vascular surgery assistance. Plaintiff's argument is if the team called for assistance sooner, they could have prevented an amputation. The case settled for $1,500,000 before the trial ended.
- 2016, Missouri: $47,907 Verdict. A woman underwent a laparoscopic hysterectomy with a da Vinci Surgical System. She suffered a surgical wound to her vaginal cuff, an adhesion of part of her small bowel to her vaginal cuff. The woman also underwent an exploratory laparotomy, lysis of adhesions, an eviscerated bowel reduction, a vaginal vault hiscence repair, and an incidental cystotomy, and a cystoscopy after the laparoscopic hysterectomy. She alleged that the surgeon failed to obtain her informed consent to perform the procedure with a da Vinci Surgical System, failed to disclose the procedure's risks, negligently failed to disclose the other procedures' risks, and negligently failed to timely treat her other injuries sustained in the procedure. The jury awarded the woman $47,907 in damages.
- 2012, Illinois: $7,522,032 Verdict. A man underwent a da Vinci Surgical System-assisted laparoscopic splenectomy. During the procedure, the surgical team perforated the man's duodenum. They also failed to recognize that it was severed. Following the procedure, the man's condition deteriorated as he showed signs and symptoms that included respiratory distress and tachycardia. One member of the surgical team performed an exploratory laparotomy a week later but failed to realize the perforated the duodenum. The man received a peritonitis diagnosis and suffered an anoxic brain injury because of sepsis. He also suffered an infection, necrotizing fasciitis, and respiratory distress. Another surgical team member diagnosed two perforations in the man's duodenum while he performed an exploratory laparotomy a week later. The man over two weeks later. His family's malrpractic lawsuit alleged that the surgical team perforated the deceased's duodenum, failed to recognize the perforation, delayed his peritonitis diagnosis, and failed to timely respond to his deteriorating condition. The jury awarded the estate a $7,522,032 verdict, which the court reduced to $6,000,000.
If you believe that you have been injured during robotic surgery, call us toll-free at 1.800.553.8083, or online. We handle medical device product liability cases and medical malpractice cases, and we help you figure out what went wrong in your case... and why.