DaVinci Surgical Robot Misused for Hysterectomies and Other Procedures
Hospitals across the U.S. are increasingly relying on robotic surgery to perform hysterectomies and other surgical procedures, including cardiovascular, gallbladder, and prostate surgeries. Intuitive Surgical Inc., which manufacturers the da Vinci Surgical System used in robotic surgery, has heavily marketed the medical device to not just hospitals but also consumers.
Hospitals that invest in the daVinci robotic surgery medical device may feel economic pressure to perform enough surgeries to recoup their investment. Substantiating findings by Audet and Partners, LLP, a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that patients may be forced to pay substantially more for robotic surgical procedures without receiving any real benefit from robotic surgery.
Marketing campaigns laud the benefits of robotic surgery, which are purported to include less pain, reduced blood loss, minimal scarring, fewer complications and accelerated recover times. These suggested benefits are so persuasive to consumers that many hospitals feel compelled to acquire these expensive pieces of surgical equipment at a cost of up to $2.2 million.
However, many contend that these benefits are the product of the minimally invasive nature of the procedure rather than the involvement of robotic surgical equipment. Those that are skeptical regarding the benefits of robotic surgery point out that conventional laparoscopic surgery yields the same benefits because it is also minimally invasive.
A recent study has cast further doubts on the benefits of robotic surgery. Conducted by researchers at Columbia University, researchers reviewed medical records for over 264,000 women who received hysterectomies that were unrelated to cancer at over 440 hospitals covering a four-year period. The study found that the volume of robotic surgeries performed during that period increased from 0.5 percent at the beginning of the study to 10 percent. If only hospitals with the da Vinci Surgical System are considered, robotic surgeries accounted for 22 percent of all hysterectomies.
The most concerning aspect of this study is the minimal difference in outcome based on the relative cost of the procedures. About 25 percent of those who received conventional laparoscopic procedures needed to stay in the hospital more than two days, the percentage of women requiring more than a two day stay after robotic surgery was 20 percent. The complication rate for both procedures was an identical five percent. In other words, the procedures resulted in comparable outcomes, but the cost was not comparable. The average total cost for patients who received the robotic surgery was just over $8,860 while the cost for those who received laparoscopic surgery was slightly over $6,670. If you, or someone to whom you are close, have suffered complications as a result of da Vinci robotic surgery, you are urged to contact Audet and Partners, LLP at (800) 965-1461.
A separate study that also was made public this week by gynecological surgeon Marie Paraiso of the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio reached a similar troubling conclusion. Paraiso randomly assigned 53 hysterectomy patients to either robotic or laparoscopic surgery. The study concluded no significant distinctions in pain, recovery time and blood loss. Further, the robotic surgical technique lasted 77 minutes longer on average than the laparoscopic surgical procedure. The longer duration for the procedure means increased cost for the patient.
The financial pressure on hospitals involved in recouping their substantial investment in this equipment is borne by patients who may be paying almost $2,000 more for a procedure that offers no clear benefits to justify the additional cost.
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If you have been injured by robotic surgery using the da Vinci Surgical System, our experienced robotic surgery injury attorneys at Audet and Partners, LLP offer a free consultation so that we can evaluate your legal claim and advise you of your options. We invite you to call us at (800) 965-1461 or email the confidential case inquiry form on the right side of this page.