Da Vinci Surgical Robot Lawsuit Update: Jurors Hear Testimony Suggesting that Intuitive Marketed Robot to Less-Skilled Surgeons, Parker Waichman LLP Recounts

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Intuitive Surgical’s director of marketing testified this week in the first da Vinci surgical robot trial; according to the witness testimony, Intuitive marketed the system to surgeons with “basic or limited” skills in minimally invasive procedures, Bloomberg reports. The trial, underway in Washington state court, is over claims that Intuitive failed to properly train surgeons, allegedly leading to complications that ultimately caused a patient’s death.

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“This testimony supports allegations that Intuitive placed profit over patient safety,” says William J. Dubanevich, attorney at Parker Waichman LLP.

Parker Waichman LLP, a national law firm dedicated to protecting the rights of victims injured by defective medical devices, is commenting on a witness testimony in the case of the Estate of Fred E. Taylor v. Intuitive Surgical, 09-2-03136-5, Superior Court, State of Washington, Kitsap County (Port Orchard). According to a Bloomberg report* published on April 19, 2013, Intuitive’s director of marketing, Ryan Rhodes, told jurors that the company had a “surgical target list” comprised of urologists who have “basic or limited” skills in minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery. This category of doctors is “where 80 percent of your clinical time should be spent,” the sales document told employees. When questioned, Rhodes confirmed that a doctor who had mastered laparoscopic surgery may tend to be less interested in the da Vinci system.

“This testimony supports allegations that Intuitive placed profit over patient safety,” says William J. Dubanevich, attorney at Parker Waichman LLP. “Instead of giving adequate training, evidence suggests that Intuitive may have targeted less-qualified surgeons to boost sales. Anyone who has suffered potential complications after having surgery with the da Vinci, including cut bile ducts, bleeding, organ damage and damaged blood vessels, should contact our firm with any legal questions. ”

Parker Waichman LLP offers free legal advice to patients who suffered injuries that may have been caused by the robotic system and is actively seeking cases.

The lawsuit now on trial alleges that Intuitive failed to properly train surgeon Scott Bildsten, who performed a robotic prostate removal on Fred Taylor, according to Bloomberg. Bildsten, who had never performed robotic surgery unsupervised prior to Taylor’s prostate removal, struggled with the da Vinci for seven hours in September 2008. He eventually reverted to traditional, and then emergency, surgery to fix a rectal laceration. Taylor died last August of heart failure allegedly caused by complications from his da Vinci robotic surgery.

Intuitive’s da Vinci system is currently the only approved robotic surgery in the United States. Bloomberg reports that Taylor’s lawsuit is the first of at least a dozen to go to trial over injuries allegedly caused by the robot. In light of mounting injury reports, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine** issued an advisory warning of complications last month. The state’s Board cited cases of complications including bleeding, adhesions, damage to the bowel and ureter, and one specific case in which a piece of rectal tissue was left inside the patient’s abdomen.

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine is not the only group to express concerns about robot-assisted surgery. Last month, the president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)*** warned consumers that there is no strong evidence showing that the da Vinci is the best option for a minimally invasive hysterectomy, nor is it the most cost efficient. ACOG President James T. Breeden also warned consumers to not be swayed by aggressive advertising, according to a CNBC report.


Parker Waichman LLP continues to offer free legal consultations to victims of da Vinci surgical robot injuries. If you or a loved one experienced surgical burns, perforated or torn organs, torn blood vessels or other injuries associated with the da Vinci surgical robot, please contact their office by visiting the firm's da Vinci Surgical Robot Lawsuit page at yourlawyer.com. Free case evaluations are also available by calling 1 800 LAW INFO (1-800-529-4636).

Parker Waichman LLP
Gary Falkowitz, Managing Attorney
(800) LAW-INFO
(800) 529-4636

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