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Robotic surgeries: The risks are still present

| Nov 29, 2017 | Surgical Errors |

When you think of robotic surgeries, you probably have the preconception that the surgery is safer. You think that a robot is so technically sound that it couldn’t make an error. What people tend to misunderstand is that robotic surgeries aren’t necessarily fully automated. Human bodies aren’t identical, so there’s no way to have a surgery performed without the watchful eye and control of a doctor.

Robotic surgeries are enticing because they have the potential to perform surgeries with fewer incisions. They are more precise in some ways, cutting smaller holes, searing off tissues with tiny lasers and literally cutting the smallest pieces of skin or tissues possible. Patients tend to heal better because they have fewer internal injuries or wounds thanks to the smaller size of the instruments. On top of that, there’s usually a lower risk of infection.

The one issue with robotic surgeries is that patients tend to think more highly of them than they should. These are not miracle surgeons that perform such tiny surgeries that you can get up and walk out of the hospital without pain. They are still doing the same work a surgeon would. There are risks, too.

Many people don’t understand the risks associated with using automated tools. A malfunction could mean an accidental injury or incision where it wasn’t intended. If a malfunction takes place, a surgeon might have to go in manually to perform an open procedure, too. Patients need to be fully informed before choosing to have a robotic surgery. If they aren’t, it could be a case of malpractice.

Source: Patient Safety Network, “Robotic Surgery: Risks vs. Rewards,” Tara Kirkpatrick, MD, and Chad LaGrange, MD, accessed Nov. 29, 2017

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