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Da Vinci Lawsuit Plaintiff First to Litigate in New Jersey

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Newark, NJA 45-year-old woman from Parlin, New Jersey, has filed a da Vinci lawsuit against the manufacturer of the controversial surgical robot, Intuitive Surgical Inc., alleging problems with the device and injuries suffered following an alleged arcing incident.

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.
Intuitive Inc. would not comment on the specific lawsuit, but released a statement nonetheless. “Over the past decade, more than 1.5 million da Vinci surgeries have been performed in major clinical centers around the world,” said Angela Wonson, a company spokeswoman. “Intuitive’s highest priority is and always has been to provide patient benefit - creating products that in a surgeon’s hands are safe, effective and minimally invasive. As with any surgery, da Vinci Surgery is not without risk. The da Vinci Surgical System is an advanced tool and is not a substitute for the training, experience and surgical judgment of the surgeon with respect to how a particular surgery should be performed.”

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.

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READER COMMENTS

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I had the Da Vinci Robotic surgery for a full hysterectomy at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, New Jersey for Uterine Cancer in May 2012. I complained for almost three months about pain, leaking body fluid and painful intercourse. Two days shy of what would have been three month post surgery, I was in severe pain and leaking a lot of fluid. I almost died. I had a Vaginal Cuff Dehiscence After Robotic Total Laparoscopic Hysteectomy, where 3 1/2 feet of my small intestines FELL OUT of my body. It took 8 people to suvpccessfully get me out of my house (EMT, Firefighters and policemen) because if I moved more would come out!

I had to have them surgically put back and RE-STITCHED closed! I was in bed for weeks and could not hold anything more than a water bottle and to this day can not lift heavy items. Also from the pressure of all my insides coming out, aesthetically I do not look the same down "there". I still leak fluid, have abdominal pain, vaginal pain and suffer from PTSD. My husband and I do not have the same relationship we had before due to my fear that I will rip open.

There was NO way for the Robot to determine IF my tissue would hold the stitches or if it DID hold the stitches, which it DID NOT! The pain I was having for three months, along with my husband being POKED by something during "relations" (which we only attempted 3 times after we were given clearance) was the stitches coming UNDONE!

Thank you for you time,

L. Karen

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