According to the Register article, two surgeons from UC Irvine have spent approximately 10 years helping Intuitive Surgical market its robot. Their efforts have included scientific papers in which the benefits of the robot are touted, speaking to physicians around the world and allegedly downplaying the risks associated with the robot.
The article notes that the relationship between the surgeons and Intuitive has benefited the surgeons’ financials and enhanced their profile. Furthermore, UCI’s medical school has reportedly been given approximately $1.5 million in grants and reimbursements from Intuitive.
Concerns about the robot have been raised because surgery using the robot can cost up to two times traditional surgery, despite reports that the more expensive surgery does not necessarily improve surgical outcomes for certain surgeries.
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It is not unusual for a medical device or pharmaceutical company to work with surgeons and health care professionals to help market their product. But the Register reports that part of the relationship involved marketing the robot as a device a surgeon could become skilled at using in just eight to 12 surgeries, while critics say it could take more than 10 times that number of surgeries to master the robot. Less experience with the robot could be one of the factors that result in serious injury to patients.