Surgical Robots: Medical Malpractice or Product Liability Lawsuit?

Robotic surgery was introduced in the 1980s and has a positive effect on surgical procedures. Often the use of robots to perform such surgeries as gallbladder removal, some cancer operations, and hysterectomies reduces the workload for surgeons and may add an element of steadiness of hand through the use of the robotic arm. However, this approach to surgery is not perfect, and injuries to patients do result leading to lawsuits. It is in the best interest of the patient who is injured as a result of robotic surgery to contact a malpractice attorney or a product liability attorney at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C.

In the case of a lawsuit against the manufacturer, it is more common to file a personal liability lawsuit than a medical malpractice lawsuit because the courts consider them differently under the law. The law firm of Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. has extensive knowledge and experience in both kinds of cases, and we can guide you if you have injuries because of robotic surgery.

When is a Robotic Lawsuit a Product Liability Lawsuit?

The inherent make-up of a robot is that it is a machine and not a person. Therefore if there is a complaint against the performance of the machine the underlying problem is usually considered to be the result of a faulty design. This removes the human element from the basis for the lawsuit when it is only the activity of the robot that causes the harm. For instance, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported patient injuries when one type of robotic machine, the daVinci Surgical System, held tissue too long or perforated an organ. They called this a design defect. In addition, there have also been instances of electrical burning, internal scarring, sepsis, sexual dysfunction, and even death in the use of robots for hysterectomies.

In order for a patient to sue the company for a defective robotic system, the patient must prove there was a defect in the design of the robot, that the robot was used as intended, and that the robot had not been altered in any way and the patient was still injured.

When is Medical Malpractice Involved?

A medical malpractice lawsuit is not the same as a product liability lawsuit. In the case of a medical malpractice suit, the patient has to prove that the standard of care that was expected in a reasonable medical setting was not met. In this sense, if the doctor who operated the robot was not properly trained in the use of the technology, the patient may have cause to file a claim against the substandard performance of the doctor and the hospital for not ensuring that the operation was up to normal standards. If the robotic system operated correctly and the fault was in the operator, then the lawsuit would fall into the medical malpractice category.

These can be very complex cases because there can be two different lawsuits for the same medical event. It is always best to seek the advice and guidance of a malpractice attorney at our law firm to make sure your claims are handled correctly.

Final Thoughts

The answer to the initial question about lawsuits concerning robotic surgery and whether it may be a product liability suit, or a medical malpractice suit is that is can be both, or it can be one or the other. At the law firm of Cochran, Kroll, & Associates, P.C. we have spent a lot of time and research preparing these cases, and we are confident that we can assist you in preparing the right approach to your situation. Contact us at 1-866-MICH-LAW (1-866-642-4529) for a free consultation. We never charge a fee unless a recovery is made.

Tristan is a professional writer and had careers as a teacher of English, school administrator, and as a broker in real estate sales. He has gained a great deal of legal experience through his service as the president of a teacher’s union, a member of the board for a real estate association, and as the chairman of the Government Affairs Committee for the real estate board of directors. Before beginning a full-time job as a freelance writer, he was the Executive Director of the Global Business Alliance for a local Chamber of Commerce and sat on the Government Affairs Committee for the Chamber.

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