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Does Robotic Surgery Reduce Surgical Mistakes?

It sounds like a story right out of an Isaac Asimov novel, that a robot could perform a surgery on a patient. However, it may even surprise some New York City medical malpractice lawyers to learn that this story was not ripped out of the pages of science fiction. Unfortunately, surgical mistakes will likely continue to be the sad reality.

A new study performed in New York City at Columbia University reviewed the medical records for over 264,000 women who had their uterus removed for noncancerous conditions from 2007-2010. Laparoscopic procedures, minimally invasive procedures where the robot is an option, had a complication rate that matched the procedure done without a robot, at 5 percent.

Those hoping for an error-free robotic surgery, in other words, should think again. The surgical robot is still controlled by a human surgeon, with all of the risk of error and negligence that accompany any traditional procedure. And any type of hospital errors or surgical negligence, whether brought on by a human or a robot, may be difficult to spot. For many, symptoms may take months or even years to show up, and may go unnoticed until a checkup or x-ray is performed.

If during follow-up examinations after a surgery, it becomes apparent there may have been a surgical error, then seeking out help immediately is essential. Even if it is a significant time after the surgical error, if it was just recently noticed, there is still a chance that the patient can be compensated for the error or mistake and the associated medical bills and other losses through a medical malpractice suit.

Hospital errors and surgical errors that result in pain and suffering are difficult to overcome, since it is never easy to come to terms with the fact that the hospital made the patient even more sick. However, seeking out help in getting fair compensation can often be the first step on the road to recovery.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Study Raises Doubts Over Robotic Surgery," Melinda Beck, Feb. 19, 2013

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