Who is liable for medical errors caused by robot surgery?
When incompetent doctors are in charge of patients, the consequences can be devastating. A person who trusts that the doctor will make things better, might get severely injured or worse. The doctor, surgeon or other medical professional who caused harm might have to answer to a medical malpractice lawsuit. In some cases involving doctor negligence, liability in these types of claims can be clear cut.
But the question of liability can quickly become complicated when medical devices are involved. One popular device, the da Vinci surgical robot, has been used in millions of operations since it was approved for use by the FDA in 2000; it also has been named in thousands of lawsuits.
Robots perform a variety of surgeries, including gynecological, cardiac, urologic and colorectal - to name a few.
Who should be held accountable if a patient is injured during robotic surgery? You might think the surgeon is to blame, but that’s not always the case.
In many cases involving robotic surgery, the company that manufactured the device is the liable party and may be named as a defendant in a product liability lawsuit.
As reported by the Mercury News, the manufacturer of the da Vinci Surgical System, Intuitive Surgical, is facing 3,000 product liability lawsuits related to robotic surgeries that occurred between 2004 and 2013. Many of the initial claims were linked to components that were recalled. Patients and their families filed claims alleging injury or death caused by the high-tech devices.
Intuitive Surgical agreed to confidential settlements in many of the claims filed against it, the Mercury News reported, citing one of the company’s regulatory filings. According to the article, robotic surgery problems may be linked to hardware or software issues and human error.
What is a product liability lawsuit?
Patients should expect that any medical product used during a procedure has been properly tested and is safe. If a patient is harmed as a result of the product, an attorney can help investigate a product liability claim. The plaintiff (the patient who was affected or family who lost a loved one) must prove the product had a defect that caused the injury or death.
The defect might be linked to an error in the manufacturing process or may be a flaw in the design. A failure to warn is a third type of defect. A plaintiff may argue the company did not provide adequate warning about a possible danger associated with the product.
A company accused of producing or marketing a defective product may deny any wrongdoing. In some cases, the company may blame the surgeon for not understanding how to use the device - or for causing the injury.
A surgeon who uses a medical device could be held liable for medical malpractice. As one doctor told the Mercury News, health care professionals must have adequate training and experience to properly use a da Vinci surgical robot. A surgical error is a common type of medical malpractice.
Without question, an injury or death involving a medical device can have a devastating impact on a victim and the victim’s family. Determining liability is not always cut and dried.
If you or a loved one was injured after a surgery involving the da Vinci robot or another medical device, an experienced attorney can work on your behalf and help determine liability and hold the negligent party accountable. You may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Our knowledgeable Syracuse attorneys can help you weigh your options and determine the best way to proceed.
For a free consultation, contact Cherundolo Law Firm, PLLC or call (315) 449-9500.