While Intuitive Surgical (Sunnyvale, CA) faces dozens of patient injury lawsuits related to its da Vinci robotic surgery system, its first patient injury lawsuit has ended in victory for the company, according to Bloomberg. In the 10–2 verdict, a Washington jury decided that the company did not demonstrate negligence in its robotic surgery training program.
The company faced a lawsuit over injuries sustained to Fred Taylor, a patient who underwent a botched prostate gland removal surgery in 2008. Four years following the operation, Taylor died. Taylor’s family then sued Intuitive Surgical for $8.5 million, alleging that the company failed to provide proper training for surgeons utilizing the robotic system. The surgeon who oversaw Taylor’s operation was using the da Vinci system for the first time on his own. The plaintiffs allege that the training program offered to surgeons was less than rigorous, only requiring a single day of training and two supervised surgeries.
Defense lawyers for the company stated that Fred Taylor was obese and should not have undergone an operation in the first place. Intuitive placed the blame firmly on the surgeon who managed the operation. The surgeon settled a separate case with Taylor's family out of court.
While this spells good new for Intuitive Surgical, the company isn’t in the clear yet. The da Vinci system faces the ire of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which stated in March that the da Vinci system did little more than increase the cost of surgical procedures. There were 300,000 da Vinci procedures performed in the United States last year.
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