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New 3D-Printing Technology Assists Pediatric Doctors: Could Other Medical Specialists Follow?

Having a child who suffers a serious injury or illness that requires surgery is nerve wracking and terrifying for parents.  Thanks to new technology at Boston Children’s Hospital, doctors now can perform practice surgeries with replicas of their patients’ body parts before ever putting the child to sleep on the operating table. Though the hospital has had a simulation program for about a decade, it started 3D-printing children’s body parts about a year ago.  This is a wonderful new technology and hopefully other doctors in different fields of medicine will soon begin using it. 

As Virginia (VA) medical malpractice lawyers we often see patients who have suffered at the hands of inexperienced doctors.  If this new 3D-printing was available to these doctors they would have the ability to practice new surgeries with new devices before operating on a real person.

One such medical device that many surgeons currently use for certain procedures is a device called a hysterscope.  Unfortunately, if a surgeon is not well trained, or inexperienced in using this device, serious injuries and side effects can occur. This was the case for one of our attorneys, Jim Lewis, who helped a family of a victim who passed away due to a medical error by a doctor involving a cut uterus and colon. The victim went into the hospital for a routine gynecologic procedure called a D & C. The surgeon used a hysteroscope and during the procedure, the doctor perforated the victim's bowels with the instrument. Then unknowingly sent the patient home to die.

Why would a doctor use a medical device that he or she is not experienced with?  Often new technology that is said to be more effective and safer is aggressively marketed to doctors and hospitalsFor example, a da Vinci sales rep reportedly urged a hospital to reduce its credentialing requirements for the surgical system. The sales rep argued that requiring surgeons to complete five supervised surgical procedures using a da Vinci robot before being allowed to use it without supervision was “on the high side.”  If that wasn’t bad enough, the hospital was complicit. A hospital staffer replied to the sales rep that they’d probably reduce the number of supervised procedures from five down to only three. 

Anytime a doctor or surgeon suggests a new surgery technology such as the laparoscope or da Vinci robot, find out how many times they have personally performed surgery with it before agreeing.


Randall E. Appleton
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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