Lawsuit Claims Death after Hysterectomy by Da Vinci Surgical Robot


In New York City, a man has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Da Vinci surgical robot makers Intuitive Surgical after his daughter died from complications sustained during a hysterectomy conducted with the device.

In the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Gilmore McCalla filed suit on April 4, based on claims that his daughter, Kimberly McCalla died after being injured by the surgical robot.

The Da Vinci surgical robot is a device featuring four remote controlled arms and a camera, which allows surgeons to use a joystick-like control to perform minimally invasive surgery.  While the device is touted because it allows for smaller smalls and shorter recovery times, some doctors feel that the rate of injuries and complications attributed to the surgical robot is far too high.

In his complaint, McCalla states that Kimberly entered Montefiore Medical Center on August 12, 2012 for a hysterectomy.  During her surgery with the Da Vinci robot, one of the surgical arms burned her right external iliac artery, causing blood to be released directly into her body cavity.  After three emergency surgeries, Kimberly died on August 25.

In his lawsuit, McCalla alleges that Intuitive Surgical was negligent in its failure to adequately research the device, as well as in its failure to properly warn the medical community or patients of the many risks associated with the surgical robot, including burns, tears, dehiscences, hematomas, fistulas, sepsis, and bleeding.

McCalla’s lawsuit claims the surgical robot is defective because it relies on monopolar energy to cut, burn, and cauterize tissue even though there are now safer methods available for these actions.  Furthermore, alleges McCalla, the arms of the robot are not adequately insulated and can allow electrical currents to pass into unintended tissues.

McCalla also states that there have been numerous complaints of damage or death caused by the Da Vinci robot.  Most of these complaints are in reference to burns or tears to organs and blood vessels.  Further complications commonly arise because many Da Vinci injuries are not apparent at the time of surgery and so are not treated in a timely manner.

Some medical professionals question whether there are any true medical benefits to using the Da Vinci system, which makes surgical procedures significantly more expensive.  Questions about whether the medical community should adopt widespread use of the device have been raised by the Kaiser Foundation and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

In his complaint, McCalla says that Intuitive Surgical intimidated hospitals into buying the system by hinting that they would lose business to other hospitals without this technology.  They also sought to increase patient demand for the robot by marketing directly to the lay public.

Intuitive Surgical did not adequately publicize or make the FDA aware of the high rate of complications associated with the Da Vinci robot, according to McCalla’s attorneys.

In addition to the high rate of complications and injuries linked to the Da Vinci system, a number of experts feel that surgeons are offered inadequate training for this device.  Some feel that hundreds of surgeries must be performed before a doctor can be truly proficient in its use, though Intuitive Surgical only provides two days of training and four live operations supervised by a proctor.  According to McCalla, Intuitive Surgical “does not adequately train physicians nor proctor them properly on the use of its device, thereby inducing them to cause complications and injuries which would be avoided in the hands of properly trained physicians.”

Contact a Medical Device Lawyer

If you or someone you love was injured or killed as a result of surgery with the Da Vinci surgical robot system, you may be able to file a lawsuit similar to Mr. McCalla’s for compensation.  Contact an experienced dangerous medical device lawyer to learn whether you may qualify for a personal injury lawsuit.



May 4, 2012 | Tags: Da Vinci Surgical Robot, Dangerous Medical Devices, Defective Medical Devices

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