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An Alabama woman has filed a product liability lawsuit against the makers of the Da Vinci surgery robot, alleging that design defects caused her to suffer serious internal injuries to her vaginal cuff and bowel during a hysterectomy.
The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on May 7, by Patricia Mayfield and her husband Drennan.
The lawsuit was brought against Intuitive Surgical, Inc., the manufacturer of the da Vinci Surgical System, which is a complex, remote-controlled robot that has been heavily marketed and increasingly used in recent years for a number of surgical procedures.
According to allegations raised in the complaint, Mayfield’s doctor recommended the use of a da Vinci surgical robot for the hysterectomy because it would involve smaller incisions, which would allow faster recovery times, and because it was promoted for having better outcomes.
Following the da Vinci robotic hysterectomy in January 2010, Mayfield was discharged home without any indication of complications. However, during the days following surgery she developed severe pain in her abdomen and a fever. She had to return to the hospital and was required to undergo additional treatment over the following months.
It was subsequently discovered that Mayfield sustained damage to her vaginal cuff and bowel during the da Vinci surgery, which has left her with continuing pain and permanent injury, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit claims Intuitive Surgical failed to provide hospitals with skilled technicians and proper training for doctors, and over-promoted the machine without providing adequate warnings about the risk of complications from da Vinci surgery.
Mayfield alleges that the design of the Da Vinci Surgical System is defective, pursuing claims against the manufacturer for product liability, negligence, fraud, breach of warranty and unjust enrichment.
In recent months, a growing number of da Vinci surgery lawsuits have been filed by individuals who have experienced internal injuries following their surgical procedure. The machine has been linked to reports of internal tears, burns and other problems. Often these complications occur without the surgeon even being aware of the injury, causing patients to be discharged home following da Vinci surgery, only to discover the problem days later.