According to FDA documents, there were 144 patient deaths related to the use of robots during surgery from 2000 to 2013. In addition, there were 1,391 patient injuries during that same period of time. Major causes of injury or death included pieces of the robot falling into the patient, electrical sparking that caused burns and unintended movements made by the robot.
Injuries tended to occur more during surgeries involving the head or neck, and they were less likely to occur during urology procedures. However, as there was a lack of information as to why patients died or were injured, it is not clear whether the incidents were caused by the robots themselves, doctor error or just the normal risks of surgical procedures. Overall, researchers determined that there were 550 errors out of every 100,000 robotic procedures performed. Fortunately, most errors did not result in injury or death.
A patient who is injured during a surgical procedure may be able to take legal action. In some cases, it may be appropriate to name both the doctor and the facility where the error occurred as defendants in a medical malpractice suit. It may be possible to establish that malpractice occurred even if a robot was at fault for an error that led to the injury.
The surviving family members of those who are killed due to surgical mistakes may want to speak with an attorney about the advisability of filing a wrongful death lawsuit if it can be established that the mistake amounted to a failure to exercise the appropriate standard of care. Plaintiffs in wrongful death actions typically seek compensation for funeral and burial costs as well as other applicable damages that are allowed by statute.