What does robotic surgery mean for medical negligence?

Date: May 31, 2018

Robotic surgery has been growing in practice over the past couple of years. This technology is meant to go where humans can't, and perform operations that might otherwise be impossible. In fact, one of the more difficult types of surgical procedures in Australia was performed just recently, but what happens if the surgery goes wrong?

Australia's first robotic surgery

Six-year-old Freyja Christiansen was operated on by a Melbourne surgeon, with the assistance of a robot. The pair were performing a complex surgery to remove a tumour from between Christiansen's throat and CA. This is a particularly difficult spot to operate on, and marked the first robot-assisted surgery in Australia.

The doctors were initially concerned about the possibility of complications like swelling around the airway after the surgery – however, this complication did not arise. Although Christiansen's story is one of success, there are plenty of stories that are not as fortunate. 

The issues with robotic surgery 

While robotic surgery sounds like the future of medical practice, it is still not without its faults. For example, in 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration had to conduct a review of a doctor in a Colorado hospital who was charged with 14 counts of unprofessional conduct as he performed surgeries with a robotic arm. 

The Colorado medical board charged the doctor responsible for cutting and tearing blood vessels during surgery as well as leaving medical instruments inside patients after surgeries, causing new injuries.

This example and others like it raise questions about who, or what, is to blame. Robotic surgery is still a new field of practice and new applications, instruments and techniques are developed regularly. Legal problems now surround aspects of the surgery like informing the patient, getting consent, surgical instruments, technical infrastructure and complications during the procedure.

It's important to understand, however, that any damage caused by a robot while operating on you should be looked into. Medical negligence claims will be levelled against the hospital or medical facility you visited should something go wrong, as they are still responsible for the equipment used. 

If you or a loved one have questions about how to pursue a medical negligence claim at the hand of a robotic surgery, please contact an expert at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers. We'll help you better understand who is to responsible. 

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.