Virginia: Medical Malpractice – a Lawyer’s Robotics

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A leading article in the May 2012 issue of Trial magazine is “ROBOTS Holding the Scalpel”. Its subheading is: “As surgeons and hospitals turn to robotic surgery, these systems will become a factor in more medical malpractice cases. Although cases involving robotic surgery resemble other malpractice suits, there was several unique considerations you must keep in mind.” Id. at 36.

Potential medical malpractice liability considerations include evolving standard of care, informed consent, learning curve, longer surgical time, open conversion, and (staff) machine setup. Id. at 38-40. “Because robotic surgery is so young and has little supporting data, the standard of disclosure of the risks and benefits that hospitals must provide each patient is fluid and evolving.” Id. at 38.

“Every new technology carries a learning curve.” Id. at 39. “Medical professionals have said it could take anywhere from 200 to 700 robotic-assisted surgeries for a surgeon to become highly proficient,” id.; which may have medical malpractice implications.