Surgeons in Louisiana may be keeping their eyes on a product liability lawsuit filed against a company that manufactures a surgical robot used to perform surgeries such as hysterectomies. The case is a novel one because it recognizes that the doctor operating the machine may not be at fault, as previously believed, but the machine itself may be.

The case has been filed by the father of a 24-year-old woman who died two weeks after the procedure, allegedly from burns to an artery and her intestines that the machine caused. The lawsuit claims that not only is the machine a defective product but that doctors are not given proper training on how to use the machine.

The lawsuit claims the machine has design flaws, such as a strong electrical current that makes it jump to healthy tissue and surgical arms that are poorly insulated.

The lawsuit alleges that the company did not provide sufficient training to the doctors using the machines and certifies them to use it too quickly.

The lawsuit does not name the surgeon, though the complaint filed in state court against the hospital does mention the surgeon.

According to the victim’s lawyer, lawsuits are being prepared across the country against the company regarding this surgical robot and may be consolidated under one court if they are allowed to move forward.

Until now, the company had never been involved in a malpractice lawsuit because injured parties were unable to prove that a mechanical defect caused the injuries. The company’s representative did not comment on the lawsuit.

Patients who think they may have sustained an injury due to the allegedly defective product may want to consider consulting a lawyer experienced in products liability to discuss what options are available for them.

Source: Outpatient Surgery Magazine, “Robot maker sued over hysterectomy patient’s death,” Leigh Page, April 10, 2012