Sheena Wilson filed her lawsuit July 16, 2013, in federal court in New Jersey. While there are a host of other lawsuits alleging da Vinci Robot injury, according to The Star-Ledger (8/4/13), Wilson’s lawsuit is the first for the state of New Jersey.
According to The Star-Ledger, the plaintiff alleges she was left with chronic abdominal pain and severe bowel issues following a surgical procedure assisted by a da Vinci surgical robot. The latter is the latest “must-have,” with more and more hospitals taking delivery of the expensive device that allows a surgeon to perform certain surgical procedures remotely (as in, not actually hands-on) using a series of joystick-like controls while peering into a high-definition (HD) camera and screen system.
Advocates of the da Vinci robot praise its capacity for precision. However, critics cite the potential for bowel injuries and inadvertent punctures to arteries, organs or blood vessels.
In her da Vinci Robot lawsuit, Wilson alleges that Intuitive Surgical knew about the potential for arcing - the incidence of electrical current flowing through a robotic arm jumping or arcing from the tip of a surgical device (such as surgical scissors, for example) into the patient, potentially resulting in serious injury.
Wilson further alleges in her da Vinci lawsuit that Intuitive failed to inform surgeons and hospitals with the da Vinci robot already in place, as to the potential for arcing. There is also reference to a report by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), taking Intuitive to task for the provision of cleaning instructions to surgeons that were allegedly insufficiently clear. The issue surrounds the practice by surgeons utilizing the da Vinci system of cleaning tools during a surgical procedure by scraping them against each other.
However, according to the FDA, the scraping of da Vinci instruments “led to tears or holes in protective tip covers that led to arcing that in turn” led to da Vinci robot injury to patients, the agency said.
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Wilson is limiting her robot lawsuit to Intuitive Surgical, and has not named the hospital where her surgery was performed or the surgeon involved. The lawsuit is Wilson v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc., No 2:2013cv04327, New Jersey District Court, Newark.