Da Vinci Robot Causes Concern Over Cancer Spread, Takes Serious Profit Hit

da vinci robotThe Da Vinci Surgery Robot received no shortage of press and hype leading up to its debut. It was hailed as a step toward the future, eliminating inevitable human error and increasing the probability of success for a number of important surgical procedures. Sadly, the reality of the machine has not lived up to the expectations and reports of injuries and complications have been steadily coming to light.   We at The Hayes Firm have helped a number of injury victims who experienced complications with the Da Vinci Robot. Of course, each case will be individually assessed by a judge and we are not the final word on just how involved the robot itself was for each injury case. That being said, the most recent news of troubles for Da Vinci do not come as a surprise and we hope the injury to victims is absolutely minimal.  

Da Vinci’s Cancer Spread Concern

  The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a new concern that involves Da Vinci usage:  

“Last week, the FDA discouraged surgeons from using cutting tools known as power morcellators to remove uterine growths called fibroids, which are a common reason for hysterectomies. There is a risk that the tools can spread a hidden cancer, the FDA said.

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Intuitive Surgical doesn’t make power morcellators, but gynecologists say it’s common to use Intuitive’s da Vinci robots to perform the initial parts of hysterectomies, then follow-up by morcellating with the hand-held tools.”

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It’s important to note that the morcellators are the key problem here, not Da Vinci itself. However the morcellator tool is key to Da Vinci operation so it is difficult to separate the two.   Cancer is one of the most looming concerns in modern health and a discovery like this will be sure to get the attention of surgery patients.  We can hope that this potential problem is being caught very early so as to minimize the scope of individuals already affected.  

Da Vinci Profits Dive

  The cancer scare is just one of the concerns Da Vinci is facing. Lawsuits are beginning to build up and the actual benefit-vs-cost of using the machine is slowing sales. As reported by MarketWatch:  

“Intuitive Surgical Inc. said its first-quarter earnings fell 77% on a steep decline in sales of its da Vinci robotic-surgery systems. Shares fell 4.1% to $405 in recent after-hours trading. Intuitive Surgical has struggled recently as concerns about the safety and cost-effectiveness of the company’s robots have hurt sales, according to analysts. The company on April 8 had preannounced the company’s preliminary results for the quarter.

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In the latest quarter, da Vinci systems sales fell 59% to $106 million, as expected. The number of systems sold fell to 87 from 164. The company said the decline reflected lower sales into the U.S. market, lower procedure growth, changing hospital capital-spending priorities and the possible anticipation of an updated system.”

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It seems evident that the legal ramifications of misuse are starting to affect Intuitive and it is unknown if the company intends to change its long term plans for the device. As we all know profit drives innovation so if profit ceases on this type of technology then progress may cease as well. The key is finding a way to develop enhanced surgical technology without sacrificing the health and well-being of the patients it is designed to help.

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