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New Study Confirms Robotic Surgery Fails to Live Up to the Hype

Hospitals, doctors, and device makers frequently tout the benefits of robotic surgery. However, a new study highlights that it may be more costly and lead to more complications when compared to traditional, low-tech methods.

The number of robotic surgeries has skyrocketed in recent years, accounting for 450,000 surgeries performed across the globe in 2012. The benefits to patients include faster recovery, limited scarring, and a reduced need for pain medication. Letting robots do the work also lessens the load for doctors and may also help them maneuver in tight spaces.

However, as San Diego medical malpractice attorneys, we also have concerns that the new technology may not live up to the hype. In fact, studies show a rise in the patient injury and death rates associated with robotic surgery. Adverse event reports grew to approximately 50 reports per 100,000 procedures in 2012 from only 13.3 in 2004.

As reported by Kaiser Health News, the latest research confirms the risks of robotic surgery with respect to surgeries to remove ovaries or ovarian cysts. The study found that surgeries conducted by robots can cost 80 percent more than traditional laparoscopic procedures. Even more concerning, patients were more likely to suffer complications, such as bladder injury, bowel obstruction or excessive bleeding.

The study “really questions the utility of using robotic-assisted surgery,” says Dr. Jason Wright, the chief of gynecologic oncology at Columbia University and the lead author. “More studies need to be done,” he said, “before it’s accepted as the standard of care.”

Given the latest findings, we encourage patients to fully research the risks and benefits of different procedures and raise any concerns with their doctors. In some cases, the high-tech procedure may not be in your best interests.