The Da Vinci Surgical System (as it’s more properly called) has been one of the most innovative and complicated medical technologies to have been introduced in the past 20 years. The surgical system was the first of its kind to become commercially available in the United States. Since its commercial debut in 2000, there have been 1,700 Da Vinci Surgical Systems installed in hospitals worldwide.
What Does It Do?
These robots essentially make the skills of a physician available for use regardless of distance. As of writing, there have been around 775,000 successful procedures that have been performed with the use of this hi-tech surgical system. In fact, robot-assisted surgery is the most preferred option when it comes to performing prostate cancer-related procedures. Three out of four prostate cancer surgeries are performed with the help of the Da Vinci Medical Robot.
Now, as humans, we are always looking for new ways to solve problems. One problem that the system seeks to solve is the distance between a physician and his patient. Because the robot is able to mimic the precision of the operating physician, the surgeon is, in essence, able to transfer his or her skill and precision where it is most needed — which is often a surgery table that’s hundreds of miles away.
Potential Improvements via AI
There’s a current trend that involves artificial intelligence. It started off with applications in smartphone cameras, and now it’s as viral as a Dengue outbreak. And it should be.
Artificial intelligence is an attempt to help minimize, or even eliminate, the risk of human error (because, let’s face it, no matter how skilled you may be, the best you can do is to minimize the margin of error).
Artificial Intelligence might even allow surgical robots to function autonomously, as long as these robots are given sufficient data to perform these complicated procedures. And that doesn’t seem to be very far off either, as Google and Johnson & Johnson have recently begun working on new surgical robots.
The thought of an autonomous surgical robot will definitely frighten a lot of people, but so has the concept of flying vehicles; now, look around and see how so many people fly on a daily basis.
It’s a fact that all machines are prone to failure. While it was established earlier that these machines were built to minimize the risk of human error, we should never forget that while these machines are designed to be error-free, many things could go wrong during manufacturing and assembly.
There are also risks that involve technology where all sorts of devices are prone to hacking. What if these robots were to be compromised during the crucial moments of a procedure?
Now, these thoughts aren’t meant to discredit the feasibility of this technology, as I truly believe that this technology could greatly help in the medical field. These thoughts are meant to raise questions and to draw attention to areas that could possibly become weaknesses.
Now, finally, the question that nobody wants to ask is “Who is to be held liable should a failed procedure involving a surgical robot results in a patient’s death?” Would it be the hospital for using faulty equipment? Would it be the surgeon for medical malpractice? Or would it be the manufacturer’s fault? For these questions, it’s always best to refer to a legal professional, in which case, consider hiring a Harrisburg personal injury lawyer.