Medical technology has led to some incredible breakthroughs and has allowed doctors to heal certain injuries and conditions that were previously next to impossible to address. For all their benefits, however, there are some instances in which medical devices do more harm than good. One current example involves surgical robots like the Da Vinci robotic surgical system.
In a recent case, Zarick v.1 Intuitive Surgical, Inc., a 44-year-old woman has alleged that the Da Vinci robot caused her to suffer serious injuries when it malfunctioned during her hysterectomy procedure in 2013. The woman underwent the hysterectomy procedure to address a number of cysts growing in her pelvic region.
The malfunction resulted in the plaintiff’s intestines prolapsing through her vagina. The plaintiff required a second surgery to address the physical damage, but the malfunction was so severe that the plaintiff was left with permanent injuries that prevented the plaintiff from engaging in sexual intercourse with her husband, among other injuries.
The plaintiff is seeking $300 million in damages from Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of the Da Vinci robot and the only company in the United States that has a surgical robot certified for procedures involving soft tissue. This lawsuit is just one of many actions that have been brought against Intuitive Surgical. According to her complaint, the woman’s physician encouraged her to choose the robotic procedure, describing it as minimally invasive and one of the safer options available on the market to address her condition.
Five weeks after the procedure was completed, however, the woman had to be rushed to the hospital because she was experiencing a life-threatening condition, resulting in reparative surgery and permanent damage to her internal organs.
The plaintiff’s medical records indicated that the electrified scissor component in the Da Vinci robot, which is used to cut and cauterize tissue, was not insulated properly. When the device malfunctioned, it caused electricity to surge into the nearby tissue and bowels, resulting in severe damage.
In response to the plaintiff’s allegations, the defendant has alleged that the plaintiff is directly responsible for her injuries because she did not wait the recommended six-to-eight weeks before engaging in sexual activity. According to the defendant, the plaintiff engaged in sexual intercourse roughly five weeks after the procedure. Many states recognize the theory of comparative negligence, which allows a jury to consider whether the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to his or her injuries. The jury can assign a percentage of fault to the plaintiff and reduce his or her damages award by that amount.
To recover damages in a product liability action, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant’s device was designed in an unreasonably dangerous manner or that the device used in the plaintiff’s procedure suffered from a defect during the manufacturing process. A plaintiff can also prevail in a product liability lawsuit by showing that the defendant failed to provide sufficient instructions and warnings with the machine regarding its proper use.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as the result of a dangerous medical device, you may be entitled to compensation. At Moll Law Group, our experienced and diligent trial lawyers have counseled accident victims throughout the country, including in California, Florida, New York, and Illinois. We offer a free consultation to discuss your situation, so call us at 312-462-1700 or contact us online.