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Robotic Surgery Error Rates Are Alarming

In an entertaining episode of the show “Grey’s Anatomy,” the chief of surgery tries to lure a promising pediatric surgeon away from her specialty by purchasing a da Vinci multi-armed surgical robot for her to use as a general surgeon. The promising surgeon delights in playing with the gadget and marvels at its dynamic, minimally invasive possibilities.

Fictional surgeons are not the only healthcare professionals under da Vinci’s spell. Unfortunately, as more surgeons turn to the da Vinci for assistance, error rates and related surgical medical malpractice claims have begun to skyrocket. In 2012 alone, approximately 400,000 surgeries in America were performed with the aid of a da Vinci. Four years ago, that number was just over 100,000. As the number of surgeries performed ticked upward, so did the related patient death rate.

In addition to climbing patient fatality rates, story after story has emerged detailing freak accidents that have occurred during da Vinci surgeries. In one instance, a patient was assaulted in the face by a robot arm. In another, the robot refused to release a patient’s tissue.

Advances in surgical technology can be lifesaving and causes for celebration. However, when technological advances start to do patients increasing harm rather than good, the technology must be re-examined. If you are scheduled to undergo a procedure involving a da Vinci, please consult your doctor about possible complications and alternatives. If you have been harmed during a robotic surgery, please consult an experienced attorney as legal remedies may be available to you.


  • CBS News, “FDA eyes increase in freak accidents during robotic surgeries,” Apr. 9, 2013