Personal Injury, Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Personal Injury, Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice Attorneys



Robotic-assisted surgeries raise questions about surgeon error

Medical malpractice 101 teaches us that surgeons and doctors must abide by a certain accepted standard of care when dealing with patients. Doctors and physicians must not act recklessly or negligently, and if they do and a patient suffers harm, the doctor who breeched that standard of care is liable. But how does this standard of care principal apply to robot-assisted surgeries? What if a defective medical device is not the issue but rather the problem is with the surgeon controlling the device? This is an important question that a New York Surgical Error attorney would have to answer since New York patients may start seeing more and more surgeries and procedures performed with the assistance of robots.
A somewhat precedential case on the issue was recently decided in Washington. The case was the first of 26 lawsuits to go to trial against one company’s robotic surgery system. The jury ruled in favor of the company and found that it was not negligent in training a physician who lost a patient following a robot-assisted surgery.
The jury decided 10-2 that the company did not owe any damages to the deceased patient or his family based on the claim that the company failed to adequately train the presiding doctor.
But patients should keep an eye on these robotic-surgery related lawsuits because this will not likely be the final decision on the issue. In addition to the other lawsuits pending, this robotic surgery system was widely used last year in over 300,000 operations in the United States. The system is present in over 1,500 hospitals across the country. The main type of surgeries performed by the robots includes hysterectomies, removal of gall bladders and prostate cancer surgery.
An attorney for the family of the deceased patient recommends looking for doctors with extensive experience in robot-assisted surgery before consenting to such a procedure, preferably one who has completed hundreds of these types of operations. The company at issue only recommended two supervised surgeries, plus a day session, before allowing unsupervised surgeries. While the standard of care may not be concretely established when it comes to this type of robotic-assisted surgery, patients can protect themselves by asking questions and seeking doctors with longstanding experience with the system.


Jay W. Dankner

JAY W. DANKNER was born, raised and educated in Brooklyn, New York. After graduation from law school in 1973, he joined the firm of the legendary, Harry H, Lipsig, under whose tutelage he learned the intricacies of civil litigation and trials. He tried and won his first case against General Motors in a case involving a design defect within weeks after his admission. Thereafter, he focused his attention on the emerging and developing field of law known as products liability litigation.



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