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Lack of training can lead to robotic surgical errors

Many Pittsburgh residents will have a surgical procedure performed on them during their lifetime. Surgeries are necessary for many people and most go as planned. In recent years, robotic surgery has become popular with many U.S. hospitals offering the service to its patients. Robotic surgeries are popular because they are typically minimally invasive. But unexpected surgical accidents do arise and some of them can be attributed to the surgeons not receiving proper training.

The da Vinci robotic surgery performs over 400,000 surgeries each year in the U.S. It is a popular tool used to perform many prostrate surgeries, hysterectomies, heart surgery, and many other types of surgeries. Many people choose robotic surgery because of the benefits that it advertises, including less bleeding, smaller incision site, shorter hospital stay, and the ability to operate precisely in hard to reach areas.

Although there can be benefits to robotic surgery, there have been many reported surgical accidents that have occurred. Besides the accidents that have occurred because of the robotic system, there have also been several occurrences of improper use of medical equipment by the surgeons. For the robotic surgeries that have unexpected side effects the lack of surgeon training is often cited as the cause. A New England Journal of Medicine essay said that surgeons should do at least 150 procedures before they can become proficient at using the equipment. The equipment's manufacturer offers training to surgeons but it doesn't show them how to do specific procedures robotically.

Although robotic surgery seems to be the next new thing in medicine, patients will want to do their research before agreeing to have their surgery performed by a robot. All surgeries have risks but when a patient investigates the risks associated with their surgery they may be able to reduce some of those risks.

Source: New York Daily News, "Surgical robot da Vinci scrutinized by FDA after deaths, other surgical nightmares", Accessed on March 3, 2015

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