Is Robotic Surgery Safe?
Researchers affiliated with the Rush University Medical Center, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois Medical Center have released a report detailing surgery deaths caused by malfunctioning robots. According to the researchers, 144 patients have been killed by robotic equipment during surgery from 2000 to 2013. In addition to surgery deaths, more than 1,000 patients have been injured.
The report describes a significant increase in the use of robotic surgical equipment since 2007. Between the years of 2007 and 2013, more than 1.7 million surgeries were performed in the U.S. using robotic equipment. The researchers collected data on adverse events from reports submitted by hospitals, patients and manufacturers of robotic equipment. Some medical professionals are put off by the price of using robotic equipment, and are skeptical they can improve the outcomes of surgical procedures.
Many of the injuries and deaths described in the report involved malfunctioning equipment. Patients would be injured by errors, uncontrolled movement of surgical instruments and burns. Some of the cases mentioned how pieces of loose equipment became stuck inside patients.
Are Patients At Risk of Surgical Injuries from Robots?
Although robots are seen by many to have an important future role in medicine, this report shows that they can commit medical mistakes, sometimes with fatal consequences for patients. While robots are capable of causing deaths and injuries, medical mistakes committed by humans are still far more common.
An estimated 200,000 patients in the United States die from medical mistakes annually. The research points out a low number of deaths and injuries in comparison to surgeons, but the report does show consistency in dangerous malfunctions over a period of 13 years.
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