The makers of the da Vinci robot surgical system have reportedly reached a confidential settlement with a woman who said design flaws caused her to suffer severe internal injuries during a robotic hysterectomy procedure.
The settlement came during a trial involving claims by Michelle Zarick against Intuitive Surgical, the da Vinci robot’s manufacturer.
According to the robotic hysterectomy lawsuit filed by Zarick, problems with the da Vinci robot system during a 2009 procedure resulted in injuries that caused her intestines to protrude into her vagina, requiring emergency surgery.
The trial began earlier this month in California state court, and was the second case to go to trial over claims that the robotic surgical system is defectively designed and can result in patient injuries. Intuitive Surgical settled the case last week, while the jury was in deliberations.
The complaint alleged that Zarick’s problems were caused by an electrified scissor attachment on the da Vinci robot, which is used to cut and cauterize tissue at the same time. The lawsuit claimed the scissors were not adequately insulated and caused injuries to surrounding tissues. It also alleged that Intuitive Surgical failed to adequately test the robot and then tried to cover up reports of complications from the FDA.
While Intuitive Surgical has faced hundreds of da Vinci robot claims in recent years, only one prior claim has gone to trial, resulting in a defense verdict in 2013 from a Washington state jury. However, the manufacturer has reached a large number of confidential robotic surgery settlements with individuals who have experienced complications following use of the da Vinci system.
da Vinci Robotic Surgery Complications
The da Vinci Surgical System is a complex robot manufactured by Intuitive Surgical, which is used in a variety of different urologic, gynecologic and other laparoscopic surgical procedures.
The device designed to provide a minimally invasive surgery, where four arms are remotely controlled by a surgeon through the use of hand and foot controls while sitting at a console that provides a virtual reality representation of the patients internal organs.
According to allegations raised in product liability lawsuits filed against Intuitive Surgical over the da Vinci robot, the manufacturer sold a dangerous and defective device, failed to adequately train surgeons and failed to provide adequate warnings for consumers about the risk of problems. The manufacturer has also faced a shareholder lawsuit by investors who say the company misrepresented the safety of the surgical robot.
In January 2013, a report by the investment research firm Citron Research highlighted a number of potential issues with the da Vinci robot and Intuitive Surgical’s response to those problems. Citron identified more than 4,600 adverse event reports submitted to federal health regulators involving the da Vinci robot, highlighting what the analysts described as a disturbing trend with the manufacturer making “clearly unfathomable” assertions that the complications had nothing to do with the da Vinci robot.