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By: Irvin Jackson | Published: December 11th, 2012
An Ohio woman and her husband have filed an injury lawsuit against the makers of the da Vinci surgical robot, alleging that defects in the design of the complex machine caused her to suffer serious problems after a robotic hysterectomy.
The complaint (PDF) was filed against Intuitive Surgical by Anna and Benjamin Lerhaupt on November 21, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Lerhaupt indicates that she suffered a vesicovaginal fistula and infection after a da Vinci hysterectomy surgery and gall bladder removal.
According to allegations raised in the lawsuit, the surgery has left Lerhaupt with ongoing injuries, including cramping and bladder problems, as well as an inability to have intimate relations with her husband.
The lawsuit accuses Intuitive Surgical of suppressing reports and complaints involving problems following da Vinci surgery, and indicates that the manufacturer has failed to provide proper training for physicians on the operation of the robot.
Similar Lawsuits Pending Over Problems Following da Vinci Robotic Surgery
The da Vinci Surgical System is a complex, remote-controlled robot that has been heavily marketed and increasingly used in recent years for a number of surgical procedures to provide a less invasive surgery, which reduces recovery time. However, a number of patients have reported experiencing serious complications following da Vinci surgery, including burns, tears and other injuries to surrounding organs, vessels or tissue during surgery.
The robot is controlled by a surgeon looking at a virtual reality representation of the patient’s internal organs and manipulating its four metal arms with hand and foot controls.
The Lerhaupt complaint is one of a growing number of injury lawsuits over da Vinci surgery filed by individuals throughout the United States who have suffered complications following a hysterectomy or other procedure involving the robot.
The lawsuits involve similar claims concerning design defects associated with the machine, indicating that the electrical current used to cut tissue may pass outside the surgical field. In many cases, these problems are not recognized during surgery, and result in complications hours or days later.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation denied a request to consolidated the da Vinci robot litigation. Therefore, all cases pending throughout the country are proceeding as individual lawsuits without coordination during pretrial proceedings.