Da Vinci Robot Surgery Information for Tennessee Residents
Numerous prominent studies from organizations including the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal for Healthcare Quality and the American Medical Association, assert that da Vinci robot surgery marketing materials make false and misleading claims about da Vinci robot surgery. Printed publications, videos and website content were all found to assert that da Vinci robot surgery offers the best patient outcomes for numerous common surgical procedures, most commonly prostate surgery and hysterectomy. Intuitive Surgical claims the advanced technology of the da Vinci robot surgery leads to less pain, reduced blood loss, and shorter hospital stays. To date, no scientific evidence has been found to support any of these claims when da Vinci robot surgery is compared to traditional laparoscopy, and many patients have suffered serious da Vinci robot surgery health problems. Yet the aggressive advertising efforts of Intuitive Surgical have resulted in da Vinci robot surgery being hugely profitable for Intuitive Surgical, who garnered almost $2.2 billion in revenue during 2012, which represented a 24% increase over 2011’s revenue of more than $1.7 billion.
Intuitive Surgical Misleads Patients, Fails to Warn of da Vinci Robot Surgery Risks, Studies Say
Da Vinci robot surgery uses the da Vinci robot to complete laparoscopy. Laparoscopy is an alternative to open surgery, and is much preferred because it uses much smaller incisions, improves patient outcomes, shortens hospital stay and recovery time, among other benefits. In laparoscopy, long-handled surgical devices are inserted into the patient through small incisions, and then manipulated from a surgeon on the outside utilizing an internal camera to see their progress. Da Vinci robot surgery differs from laparoscopy in that the surgical devices are manipulated by the da Vinci robot, which are controlled remotely by a surgeon using a range of joysticks and controls. The main benefit of da Vinci robot surgery, Dr. Hyung Kim of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles told the LA Times, is that da Vinci robot surgery is more comfortable and less of a strain for surgeons. The medical benefits of da Vinci robot surgery for patients are still unproven.
Da Vinci Robot Surgery Accompanied by Severe Risks and Dangers
Da Vinci robot surgery poses serious medical risks to patients. Dr. Marty Makary of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine said in a 2011 LA Times article that da Vinci robot surgery, “has a major disadvantage… The sensory feedback upon which surgeons rely is gone. The Da Vinci can't tell whether body parts are "firm, squishy, bony, soft, delicate or hard," he says. Without that tactile information, it might be easier for a surgeon to accidentally cut the wrong body part.” The FDA has collected thousands of adverse event reports citing complications from accidental cuts, ruptures and tears to internal tissues and organs during da Vinci robot surgery. Some patients have required repeated surgeries to repair damage caused by da Vinci robot surgery; others have faced incontinence, severe pain, excessive bleeding and even death as a result of da Vinci robot surgery injuries.
Da Vinci robot surgery is on the rise in Tennessee and throughout the United States. The 2011 LA Times article documented the trend: “Use of a robotic assistant called the Da Vinci Surgical System has quadrupled in the last four years, and the machine now helps with incisions and sutures in 2,000 hospitals around the world.” A growing number of hospitals are purchasing da Vinci robot surgery systems, and more patients are demanding da Vinci robot surgery by name. This is an unexpected trend, the article implies, given that da Vinci robot surgery has not been scientifically proven: “‘There's never been a study showing clinical superiority,’ says Dr. Marty Makary…. ‘For the patient, there's clearly no difference.’ In a paper published in May of 2011 by the Journal for Healthcare Quality, Makary made the case that the robot is more of a marketing tool to attract patients than a medical one to improve their care.”
How can it be, in the United States of America, home to leading medical institutions and researchers, that a scientifically unproven medical procedure like da Vinci robot surgery can yield such great profits and become so widespread?
Intuitive Surgical Profits from da Vinci Robot Surgery While Patients Suffer
A 2011 article in the Washington Post warned about the risk associated with the growing trend toward da Vinci robot surgery: “Such expansion has raised concerns about whether hospitals are overly promoting robotic surgery… ‘I think people are captured by the belief that being operated on with the newest technology, like a robot, is always better than the old ways — that is not always true,’ said Gabriel Barbash, an internist.” Barbash was a co-author of an article published by the New England Journal of Medicine which analyzed the cost of da Vinci robot surgery as compared to laparoscopy, finding that da Vinci robot surgery adds an average of $1600 (6%) to typical surgery costs. “The difference was even greater when researchers factored in the price of the robot itself — $1 million to $2.3 million, plus up to $170,000 per year in maintenance, according to Intuitive Surgical, maker of the da Vinci… With hospitals making such large investments in the new technology, Barbash said, they have incentives to promote da Vinci.” Hospitals are facing huge costs in order to provide da Vinci robot surgery, while Intuitive Surgical makes record profits off technology that may be more harmful than beneficial. The company reported earnings of nearly $2.2 billion in revenue during 2012, demonstrating a 24% increase over 2011’s revenue of over $1.7 billion.
Studies examining marketing materials used by hospitals to promote da Vinci robot surgery have found that a majority of institutions are using written content, brochures, stock images, or video clips produced by Intuitive Surgical about da Vinci robot surgery in order to attract new patients. “‘The competition right now [for patients] is on the level of billboards, advertisements, Web sites and more…. The competition should be on the level of outcomes,” said Dr. Marty Makary when interviewed by the Washington Post. A pancreatic surgeon at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Makery co-authored a study on da Vinci robot surgery marketing, published by the Journal for Healthcare Quality, which found that of 164 hospital web sites about robotic technology, 73 percent made use of images or text provided by Intuitive Surgical and 89 percent asserted that robotic surgery is superior. None of the 164 web sites gave information about da Vinci robot surgery risks. “This is a really scary trend,” Makary said in a press release.
“We’re allowing industry to speak on behalf of hospitals and make unsubstantiated claims.” - Dr. Marty Makary, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
The study concluded that, “Materials provided by hospitals regarding the surgical robot overestimate benefits, largely ignore risks and are strongly influenced by the manufacturer.” A majority of the public, the study notes, expect hospital websites to present unbiased, medically-sound information: “Because patients regard information on hospital websites as the medical opinion of physicians working at that hospital, hospital website information carries credibility that can influence patient choice.” Another study, “reported that the majority of hospital marketing claims were aimed at attracting patients rather than providing accurate information.”
Doctors Warn Patients of Risks of da Vinci Robot Surgery Dangers
A few medical institutions have begun to warn their patients about the risks of da Vinci robot surgery. Most notably, the Women’s Surgery Center, which has four locations in the Maryland/DC/Virginia region, has a web page cautioning patients about the true risks of da Vinci robot surgery based on findings of studies completed by the center and presented to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Society of Laparoscopic Surgeons, and the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopy. The studies conclude that, “Robotic surgery is certainly better than open surgery, but is inferior when compared to a well trained laparoscopic surgeon using advanced laparoscopic techniques. As compared to Advanced Laparoscopic Surgery with a highly qualified surgeon, the robot:
- Increases the incision size,
- Increases the length of hospital stay,
- Increases pain associated with the procedure,
- Increases the recovery time, and
- Greatly increases operative time and cost.”
Tennessee Da Vinci Robot Surgery Lawsuits
Da Vinci robot surgery lawsuits in Tennessee are represented on a contingency basis, meaning that you pay nothing if you do not receive compensation. People who have suffered serious injury as a result of da Vinci robot surgery in Tennessee may file a Tennessee da Vinci robot surgery lawsuit or their loved ones may file a da Vinci robot surgery lawsuit in Tennessee on their behalf.