UPDATE! Hospitals get Advisory Letter: Massachusetts Issues Caution About Robotic Surgery

In Massachusetts, the state advised that hospitals pay attention to whether direct-to-patient marketing changes how they select patients, given that such advertising has led patients to seek out certain procedures from their doctors. Hospitals were also cautioned to make sure their websites include the risks as well as the benefits of robotic surgery.

Given the high cost of the robot equipment — $1.5 million to $1.75 million, not including annual service fees and the expense of buying disposable instruments — hospitals must attract many patients to reap a return on their investment. Reportedly, hospitals’ advertising and marketing campaigns have made some claims not necessarily supported by the evidence.

Dr. Jim Hu, a surgeon at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles who has researched robotic surgery, said the Da Vinci has been used in prostate cancer surgery since 2000. Complications were high in the early days as surgeons learned how to use the robot, he said, but those rates have since improved. As surgeons expand their use of the robot to other surgeries, patient injuries may be rising again, he said. Hu said hospitals have engaged in an arms race, while not paying close enough attention to standards for allowing doctors to use robots in surgery. “It’s a great tool,” he said, “but it’s not good if people don’t know how to use it.”

Robotic surgeries can pose increased threats to patients. Swartz and Swartz, P.C. was one of the first law firms in the nation to file suit against improperly trained surgeons causing injury to patients while using a robotic device during surgery. If you believe you have been injured due to medical negligence or a mechanical defect during a robotics procedure, please contact one of the highly experienced medical malpractice and products liability attorneys at Swartz & Swartz, P.C. Our lawyers are here to answer your questions and discuss how to protect your legal rights. Call our Boston, Massachusetts office at (617) 742-1900, or toll-free at 1-800-545-3732.

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