Intuitive Surgical Inc. faces yet another product liability lawsuit over their da Vinci robot, filed by an Alabama couple who alleges that problems with the surgical robot during a hysterectomy resulted in the need for at least three additional surgeries and permanent injuries.
The da Vinci robotic surgery lawsuit was filed by Gwendolyn Jones and her partner, Amos Jones, Jr., in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama on April 10.
According to allegations raised in the complaint, Gwendolyn Jones suffered significant damage to her left ureter and bladder during a da Vinci robotic hysterectomy, where the doctor used the surgical robot to perform the surgery instead of other methods of hysterectomy.
The da Vinci robot is a complex machine that features four remote controlled arms and a camera, allowing surgeons to operate through a small incision with a joystick-like control. Jones alleges that prior to her surgery she was provided a brochure outlining some of the benefits of a da Vinci robotic hysterectomy, including faster recovery times, better outcomes and less pain. However, she indicates that the surgery robot caused her to suffer permanent and debilitating injuries.
As a result of complications that arose during the robotic hysterectomy, Jones’ doctor had to convert to open laparotomy surgery with repair of the bladder. Jones was given two units of packed red blood cells due to blood loss during surgery and discharged home after three days.
Approximately two weeks later, Jones indicates that she began to have severe pain and returned to the hospital where a ureteral injury was confirmed. She subsequently underwent three additional surgical procedures, but has been left with permanent injuries.
A similar wrongful death lawsuit over the da Vinci surgical robot was filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, after Kimberly McCalla died in August 2010 following a robotic hysterectomy. As a result of the procedure, McCalla’s family alleged that she suffered a burn of the right external iliac artery, which caused it to pump blood directly into her body cavity.
Although Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of the da Vinci robot, promoted the device as safer than more traditional procedures, a number of similar complications during da Vinci robotic surgery have been reported.
Lawsuits over the da Vinci robot allege that Intuitive Surgical failed to adequately research the machine or warn patients and the medical community that it may increase the risk of serious complications and injuries, such as burns, dehiscences, bleeding, hematomas, sepsis and fistulas.
The Jones lawsuit seeks $490 million for pain and suffering, medical damages and loss of consortium, accusing the company of negligence, fraud, breach of warranty, and unjust enrichment.