Complications higher with robotic surgery, study says

Concern over robotic surgery continues to mount after recalls and studies

Robotic surgery is often touted as a safer form of surgery leading to better standards and fewer complications for patients. However, such claims are being called into question by a growing body of evidence showing the technology may not deliver many of the benefits its advocates suggest. A recent study, for example, found that surgical complication rates were higher when using the technology to remove ovaries and ovarian cysts compared to regular minimally invasive surgery, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Costs, complications higher

The most recent study found that for ovary removal surgery, the complication rate for surgeries utilizing robotic technology was 7.1 percent, whereas it was just six percent for regular laparoscopic surgery. For ovarian cyst removals, the complication rate with robotic surgeries was 3.7 percent, again higher than the 2.7 percent recorded for regular laparoscopic surgery. The study's authors say that one of the reasons for the higher complication rate is because of surgeons who are not used to the new technology making more mistakes.

Additionally, costs are much higher using the robotic technology. For ovary and ovarian cyst removals, the cost for a regular laparoscopic surgery ranges between $4,100 and $5,000. Using robotic surgery, however, the average costs are over $7,400 per procedure. Given the comparatively high complication rate for what is considered an otherwise routine procedure, critics are beginning to wonder how hospitals can justify investing so much money into the new technology.

Questions about technology mount

The study is also hardly the first time questions have been raised about robotic surgery. As the Worcester Telegram recently reported, the machines have been plagued by recalls over problems like the robotic arms drifting and the machines failing altogether.

Furthermore, the machines have been tied to 70 patient deaths in recent years. Other studies have also shown increased complication rates for other surgical procedures using the technology both during and after surgery. Critics say hospitals have scrambled to buy the devices largely because of a perception problem: they fear if they do not have the latest technology that patients will go elsewhere for treatment. Given the high costs associated with the technology, however, critics are understandably beginning to ask whether hospitals could better spend their money on technology that has actually proven to benefit patients.

Medical malpractice

As this story shows, surgical and other medical errors can occur at any hospital, including the ones willing to spend large sums of money on the latest technology. For patients who have been the victims of such errors the consequences can be devastating and life changing.

Such victims should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. The right attorney can discuss specific aspects of a client's case and help determine whether a malpractice claim can be pursued in light of any alleged act of negligence or malpractice.