Robotic Surgical Instruments ‘Virtually Impossible to Clean’

studyOur firm has four filed cases against Intuitive Surgical, the maker of the da Vinci surgical robot.  But the revelation in this study is new even to us: the robots are “virtually impossible to clean.”  This from a new study conducted in Japan in which robotic and ordinary instruments were tested according to manufacturer instructions, and protein levels then compared.  “The overall level of residual protein in each instrument was much higher for robotic instruments than for ordinary instruments.”  The reason is that the structure of robotic instruments “is so complex that updating their cleaning methods is a challenge for healthcare professionals.”  The study calls for new cleaning standards, which it says could prevent dangerous infections in patients.The study is available here.

This is another in a disappointing series of revelations about Intuitive Surgical, the Sunnyvale, California company that has come to dominate robotic surgery worldwide through hyper-aggressive, direct-to-consumer marketing.  The company also achieved its success by pressuring hospitals and doctors to adopt the technology despite the absence of documented benefit, increased expense, and a daunting learning curve.  You can learn more about these practices in this article about a Friedman | Rubin case currently before the Washington Supreme Court, Josette Taylor v. Intuitive Surgical, Inc.  Our firm also represents two women and one man injured by defective insulation in the robotic electrified scissors sold by the company.  The defect in question is described here.