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Does robotic surgery alter the medical malpractice standard?

Robotic assistance is supposed to make surgeries safer. However, if something were to go wrong, who would be liable? Could the doctor overseeing the procedure be sued for medical malpractice on account of a robotic malfunction?

These are the questions that were recently put before a court of law. The case involved a patient who suffered complications after a robotic surgery involving the da Vinci Surgical System. The patient filed a lawsuit against the doctor, the hospital, as well as the manufacturer of the robotic equipment, Intuitive Surgical. After determining that the doctor may have been poorly trained, the court concluded that the manufacturer should not be held liable. 

The case is an important reminder that medical training, even for doctors, must keep pace with technological innovations. However, according to some commentators, the training and credentialing of doctors for new medical devices, including robotic technology, may be non-standardized and/or insufficient.

Our firm focuses on medical malpractice lawsuits, and we know that a professional standard of care should apply to doctors and hospital staff even when guidelines have not been issued for new technology. In this example, the doctor in question had completed training offered by the manufacturer, but that program did not cover unusual situations, such as the obese patient who became the doctor's first unsupervised prostatectomy. 

If you believe that post-surgical injuries or complications were due to medical negligence, don't delay in consulting with an attorney. Our attorneys know that surgery-related injuries can be complex and may require experts to investigate the causes of injury. Our law firm can coordinate this evidence gathering and help you present a strong case. 

Source: HealthLeaders Media, "Technological Change Creates a 'Blind Spot' in Physician Credentialing," Tinker Ready, April 24, 2015

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