Advances in robotics have made it possible for doctors to perform surgeries more efficiently and easily. However, despite the efficiency and ease surgical robotic systems offer to today’s physicians, the technology is in its infancy and, when used incorrectly or without adequate training, it can result in serious harm to or even the death of patients. In fact, according to the FDA, complications and adverse events during use of one such system, the da Vinci system, have more than doubled from one year ago.

With respect to the use of the da Vinci system, our Montana residents will find it interesting to learn that according to reports, a gynecologist was found to have committed medical malpractice when he not only removed a Montana woman’s healthy ovary, but in the process also left behind plastic items in her body when he operated on her in 2007 using the system. As a result of the verdict, the doctor is now responsible for over $100,000 in damages to the Montana woman.

In this case, when the woman went in for a checkup in 2007 with complaints of pain in her pelvic region, the doctor advised her to undergo a surgical procedure to remove her right ovary, right fallopian tube and appendix. The doctor performed the surgery using a da Vinci robot. Despite the invasive surgical procedure she underwent, the woman continued to experience pain. Furthermore, following surgery with the da Vinci robotic system, an examination of the woman’s removed organs determined that the surgery was apparently unwarranted, because the organs appeared to be completely normal.

Nearly three years following the woman’s surgery, a CT scan of her pelvis revealed that a number of foreign objects were embedded within her body. The woman underwent surgery to remove a laparoscopy sheath, as well as a number of coils that are normally used as birth control devices, from her body.

The woman filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against her doctor and originally sought damages in the region of one million dollars. However, following testimony from not only the woman, but also seven other physicians, the jury awarded a total of a little over $110,000 for medical expenses and compensation for pain and mental anguish.

Source: Injury Lawyer News, “Plaintiff Awarded $100,000 Verdict in Da Vinci Robot Lawsuit,” Rodney Warner, Dec. 16, 2013