Nowadays, doctors aren’t always the ones with their hands on the scalpel cutting into your body during a surgery, but instead, it’s a robot guided by a doctor in another room, city, or state instead. This leads many patients to wonder what avenues they can pursue if an autonomous robotic surgical device malfunctions, botches a surgery, or otherwise maims or kills them.
Autonomous Robotic Surgery
The performance of autonomous robotic surgery (ARS) is on the rise in the United States and around the world. Health care administrators have begun outfitting their medical facilities with this cutting-edge technology as a way of outdoing their competition and improving patient care.
Speaking of improved patient care, ARS has been touted as being more accurate than physicians, leaving patients with quicker recovery times, and thus, shorter stays in the hospital.
While all of the benefits that ARS is reported to have are good and well, what happens when technology doesn’t do as it’s supposed to and someone gets hurt?
Historically speaking, doctors have been responsible for explaining the inherent benefits and risks associated with performing one procedure versus another before moving forward with it.
Even when performing surgery using a certain instrument or device, doctors have been labeled as “learned intermediaries,” and therefore, responsible for shouldering the majority of the liability related to its use.
ARS Manufacturer to Blame?
While it would seem that the use of ARS would instead shift blame to the manufacturer of the robotic technology, many legal experts argue that it would not. Instead, since the doctor would be the one advising the patient of the risks associated with surgery and overseeing the operation of the device, he or she would continue to be responsible for its failures.
Given that ARS is relatively new at most medical facilities, it’s likely that many legal cases will be fought over whether a doctor or the robotic surgical equipment manufacturer should be held liable for negligence that results.
If you’ve been permanently injured by faulty surgical equipment or poorly designed product left in you, then a Houston defective medical device attorney can advise you of your right to sue its manufacturer for damages.
Source: Medical Design & Outsourcing, “How does autonomous robotic surgery affect product liability?,” Chris Newmarker, Jan. 26, 2018