Imagine you’ve been diagnosed with a condition requiring surgery, you might be scared or at least worried. But then your doctor tells you he will be using a new surgical technology for the operation, the da Vinci robot. Sounds fancy and state of the art, right? The manufacturers of the robot promise that, “It is an effective, minimally invasive alternative to both open surgery and laparoscopy. Imagine major surgery performed through the smallest of incisions. Imagine having the benefits of a definitive treatment but with the potential for significantly less pain, a shorter hospital stay, faster return to normal daily activities – as well as the potential for better clinical outcomes.”
Unfortunately the lack of proper training and aggressive promotion of the da Vinci surgical robot by sales reps to hospitals and doctors has created many medical malpractice victims some here in Virginia (VA). Some hospitals only require that doctors perform the surgery supervised three times before striking out on their own. I wouldn’t even let someone clean my teeth if they had only tried it three times.
The consequences of untrained doctors performing surgery with a new and untested tool can have terrible consequences. A newly wed ended up with her intestines falling out of her vagina when she trusted her gynecologist to use the da Vinci robot on a routine hysterectomy. In March, 2013 the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement on robotic surgery for hysterectomies, cautioning surgeons of the importance of separating “the marketing hype from the reality when considering the best surgical approach for hysterectomies.”
Without the proper standard of care any surgery can be dangerous. However the problem with the da Vinci robot is that some doctors are putting aside great, state-of-the-art, minimally invasive techniques that have worked for years, and replacing them with more expensive robotic technology, without a benefit to the patients.