FDA Tightens Scrutiny of Surgical Robot
Move comes after increase of reports in problems
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Apr 9, 2013 2:42 PM CDT
In this photo from video, doctors are seen using the device to perform a surgery.   (AP Photo/Courtesy of Intuitive?Surgical, Inc.)

(Newser) – You may not have heard of the da Vinci surgical robot, but your local hospital surely has. The $1.5 million robot is a hot item in the medical world, having been used in 367,000 US surgeries last year. Now, however, the FDA is talking a closer look after an increase in reported problems linked to the device, including five deaths, reports AP. In one case, a woman died after the robot nicked a blood vessel. The device is operated by surgeons, and the story takes pains to note that the robot itself may not be at fault.

The multi-armed robot has also made some bizarre moves during surgeries, including refusing to release tissue it was holding and hitting a patient on the face. These days, da Vinci is being used three times as often as it was four years ago; it's in one of four US hospitals. Some experts say that's partially thanks to extensive marketing. "The rapid adoption of robotic surgery ... has been done by and large without the proper evaluation," says one. But the robot's maker, Intuitive Surgical, says "adverse event rates" are "in line with historical trends" after 1.5 million surgeries.

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Showing 3 of 16 comments
Apr 26, 2013 3:22 PM CDT
these so called robot aarm have not been used enough we be put into operating rooms thay can easily nick a blood vessel , an not to mention the steriliztion of the arms after surgury,i've done sterile processing for 18 years in the o.r. settings. an these pose a real problen with turn over,.like they cannot be turnover in a timely manner.a possibility of infection doubles or triples . so those stats on problems are very fuzzy.
Apr 10, 2013 6:04 PM CDT
Out of 367,000 surgeries, how many Dr's screwed up? Bet it's more than 5.
Apr 10, 2013 7:25 AM CDT
What's the problem? I'm sure there have been many human doctors who have wanted to smack their patient in the face before.