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Study Suggests Robotic Surgery Complications are Underreported

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Jarod Cassidy4 years ago

According to a press release by the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, research published in the Journal of Healthcare Quality suggests that injuries and deaths tied to surgical robots are being underreported.

About Robotic Surgery

  • Robots are used in surgery to minimize trauma in certain surgeries and to conduct surgery in hard-to-reach parts of the body.
  • Robots are often used in gallbladder surgery, hysterectomies and to replace heart valves.
  • From 2007 to 2011, the number of robotic surgeries performed per year has quadrupled and the number of robotic units in hospitals has nearly doubled.

Complications in Robotic Surgeries are Underreported

“Doctors and patients can’t properly evaluate safety when we have a haphazard system of collecting data that is not independent and not transparent. There may be some complications, specific to the use of this device, but we can only learn about them if we accurately track outcomes.” – Martin A. Makary, M.D., M.P.H. of the John Hopkins University School of Medicine in a press release.

  • After analyzing about 1 million surgeries, John Hopkins researches have concluded that complications in robotic surgeries and surgical robot malfunctions have been underreported.
  • In the 1 million cases reviewed between 2000 and 2012, the researchers only found only 245 reported complications resulting in 71 deaths.
  • The most common cause of death reported was excessive bleeding and hysterectomies resulted in the most complications.
  • These low numbers seem to contradict the findings of another study in which 57 percent of surgeons reported to have encountered robot malfunctions during surgeries which led to them needing to adopt alternate methods to complete the surgery.
  • Currently, these complications are reported alongside complications that take place during conventional surgery making it unclear if surgical complications were caused by surgeon error or device-malfunction.
  • The researchers suggest that robot related complications should be recorded in a seperate, device related database allowing for a better analysis of what specific complications are tied to which devices.
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