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Da Vinci Hysterectomy Lawsuit Alleges Ongoing Complications

Da Vinci Hysterectomy LawsuitWith the increased use of the da Vinci robot surgical system comes increased public concern over the potential for serious risks. The latest plaintiff to file a complaint with regard to the robotic surgery is Melissa Pearson, a resident of Tennessee.

The da Vinci hysterectomy lawsuit, which was filed on July 2, 2014, is currently proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California before Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu.

The plaintiff demands compensation from Intuitive Surgical Inc., the manufacturer of the da Vinci system, in excess of $75,000 for her physical injuries and economic losses.

Da Vinci robotic surgery system

The da Vinci system is a robotic device that involves the use of tiny wristed instruments, which have the capacity to move beyond the range of motion of a human hand. It also involves a 3D vision system. The surgeon is in complete control of the movements of the instruments, guiding them through simple and complex surgeries. The da Vinci system has been increasingly used for gynecological surgeries such as the procedure endured by the plaintiff, in addition to surgeries for kidney, prostate, and gallbladder issues.

The manufacturer touts the system as being a safer alternative to traditional surgery because it enables a faster recovery time with a reduced risk of complications, such as bleeding. However, a flood of adverse event reports have been noted in association with the system. In fact, researchers from Johns Hopkins have concluded that da Vinci robotic surgery complications have been significantly under-reported.

Plaintiff developed severe complications

Although the da Vinci system was supposed to be safer than other surgical approaches, Pearson’s da Vinci hysterectomy lawsuit alleges significant complications. She had her surgery on July 16, 2013 and was subsequently diagnosed with a post-operative pelvic abscess, which refers to a pocket of infection in the area of operation. Shortly after enduring the surgery, the plaintiff complained of severe abdominal pain and a sore throat, and was found to have a 103-degree fever.

The plaintiff was hospitalized for six days after the drainage of the abscess with a catheter and needle. She was discharged with the catheter still in place. According to her lawsuit regarding the robot surgery injury, Pearson continues to suffer from severe pain from her complications.

Intuitive accused of failing to provide adequate warnings

The plaintiff’s da Vinci hysterectomy case accuses Intuitive of having knowledge of the potential complications, which have included the plaintiff’s injuries as well as burns, tears, dehiscences, blood loss, sepsis, hematomas, adhesions, and fistulas. The lawsuit points to the risk of damage to internal organs and structures, including the blood vessels, bladder, and bowel, and the complaint notes that many complications have the potential to lead to premature death.

Despite all of these risks, the complaint claims the defendant has failed to provide adequate warnings to healthcare providers and patients. The lawsuit further charges Intuitive with failure to conduct sufficient safety tests on the system and failing to properly train physicians on the use of the robot-assisted device.

  1. The New York Times, New Concerns on Robotic Surgeries,
  2. Da Vinci, da Vinci®…Changing the Experience of Surgery,