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Underreported errors for robotic surgery causing consternation

Technological advancements in the medical industry are absolutely crucial. They allow doctors and surgeons to push the boundaries of medicine, hopefully granting us a better quality of life. But there are dangers to technological advancements in healthcare. For one, they may be improperly used, or the medical staffers may not be properly trained to use the equipment. In addition, losing the human element of medical care, though curing some errors, causes other errors.

For example, say a technical glitch causes a robotic surgery mechanism to malfunction in the middle of a complicated procedure. This breakdown could cause the patient immense harm, which could take a long time to recover from. This isn’t to say that human surgeons are impervious to mistakes; but during a robotic surgery, a technical breakdown is not expected.

According to Johns Hopkins University, these robotic surgeries are a troubling area of medicine — not because they are ineffective, but because the surgical error reporting system seems desperately lacking. Since 2000, at least 1 million robotic surgeries have been performed, but only 245 complications have been reported as a result of robotic surgery.

Is the equipment just that good? An associate professor at Johns Hopkins is skeptical. “The number reported is very low for any complex technology used over a million times,” he said.

The report suggests that the medical industry needs to bolster its error reporting system when it comes to robotic surgeries. Without an improved system, surgery patients may be susceptible to substandard care when they are undergoing a robotic surgery.

Source: UPI.com, “Robotic surgery complications underreported, study finds,” Kristen Butler, Sept. 3, 2013


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