Advances in Medical Tech Don’t Necessarily Guarantee Safety

Progress in the field of medicine and surgery continues to advance, instilling in patients greater trust in the safety of procedures. It is important to be aware, however, that physician error and malpractice can still occur, even with the latest technology at hospitals’ disposal.

The da Vinci Surgical System

The da Vinci surgical system is a robot designed to make surgeries and recovery more efficient. Its precision should lead to less scarring and less recovery time for the patient. Complications have fallen to under 3 percent when surgeons use it.

Intuitive Surgical, the makers of da Vinci, as well as hospitals and doctors that have used the robot, have filed 17,000 adverse events reports because of malfunctions of the device. The malfunctions range from losing control of the robotic arms, to parts of the device falling off into patients’ bodies.

Human Casualties

Many malfunctions have resulted in the loss of human life. Two-thousand reports on the da Vinci recorded patient injuries, and 274 deaths. The actual figures are much higher, though, because an investigation discovered that 12 adverse events reports dealing with injuries were actually bundles of adverse events combined into the same report. In the worst instance, Intuitive Surgical filed 200 injury reports as part of the same filing.

Human Error

When error-prone human beings manufacture machines, the machines themselves cannot be perfect. The da Vinci system has had 175 recalls in the past decade, with as many as 49 in a single year.

Even if the robot is functioning correctly and not recalled, it can still play a role in injuring a patient. A surgeon may have too little training to operate the robot, for instance. When companies first introduce a new device, a lack of training is an especially common problem.

We are far from the point where technology fully eliminates human error. Humans design and build new machines, and humans oversee and operate them. Human error can be a failure to recall a faulty part, or a lack of proper training for an operator. Machines can increase our precision but will never make us perfectly safe from injury.

Have you or someone you loved suffered an injury due to a machine? You may be entitled to compensation. Contact Regan Zambri Long for a free consultation today.

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