Malpractice in the medical field is the improper, illegal, or negligent professional activity or treatment by a medical practitioner. A significant area of concern is medical error caused by humans. Errors that include having a doctor tear tissue and arteries that weren’t supposed to be part of the operation have been highly debated on to the point of what we can do. Some argue that medical robots could be the answer to the prevention of such malpractice. Robotic systems would increase surgical precision therefore decreasing medical malpractice. At times, surgical processes done by humans has left patients more worse than when they came in. There are already some robotic systems in service today. On the other hand, some argue that robotic systems cost more than they provide. One could argue that not every hospital has the funding to start to slowly incorporate their facilities with robotic services. That brings us to the question, would the use of medical robotics decrease the amount of malpractice in the medical field.
To commence, many say that risking people’s wellbeing is a serious problem that shouldn’t even be a discussion. According to U.S. News, it states, “Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, causing at least 250,000 deaths every year, according to an analysis out Tuesday indicating that patient safety efforts fall far short.” Even though being a news outlet organization, the U.S. News report is based on actual evidence and evaluation from people who intend on getting the story out to the public. Their intent is to allow many to hear what has been happening around medical practices and what our options are in tackling this problem, such as handling it by medical robotics. It also states, “Patient safety efforts have failed to gain much traction, Makary says, because there’s no systematic effort to study medical errors or to put effective safeguards in place.” 1 The new era has a new problem that is, what some call, a growing epidemic especially in the eyes of those growing number of malpractice victims. Not only growing in the U.S. but as well as in countries around the world. In many situations, it has even caused death to patients that could’ve been saved if it weren’t for fatal mistakes made by medical practitioners. According to the Center for Justice Democracy who deal with medical cases that has a tendency in running into malpractice related cases frequently, it states, “during the birth of Sandra’s daughter Alexandra, the doctor contorted and stretched Alexandra’s spine, destroying her nerves and leaving her partially paralyzed.” The CJD could be seen as biased, but have the potential in gathering reliable research to which they can spread to the public. The procedure has left the patient in extreme discomfort and has even caused her to die. “Procedures, such as the one done to Alexandra, that has gone to cause a lot of harm to many serve as a sign that something would need to be done to prevent something like this from happening. A Dallas Morning News investigation found that two other babies, in this doctor’s care, had died,” according to the CJD (2), the stories of both Alexandra and the other two baby cases has the potential in supports the argument towards medical robotic systems even though it was coming from a news source, that is a paid organization, but have different intends instead of using these stories as publicity. This brings up the question, would it help prevent more malpractice from happening? Could it help save lives? The answer, to many, is simple, yes. Many believe that the introduction of medical robotics lessens the risk of human error by having robotic assistance.
Surgeons, physicians, and nurses are the superheroes of healthcare but even Captain Marvel needs a trusty sidekick and that’s where the robots come in. Surgical procedures take an enormous amount of precision that can prove to be too much pressure for doctors. They are human after all, so they make mistakes. What if robotic systems were implemented to do the procedures instead of humans? According to the Robotic Industries Association, “They (Robots) augment the surgeons’ potential with superhuman precision and repeatability.” Being an organization that supports robotic advancements they have a well-reasoned support that adds credibility when it comes to speaking on robotic systems in the medical field even though it still is a paid organization that could have swayed evidence but can also have reliable research that can be misinterpreted. Robotic systems have an extreme level of measurability that could help hospitals save lives at an efficient rate. They offer measurability only automated machines could achieve. Incredible measurability that allows doctors to be very careful and allow doctors to get into areas more confidently and quickly to get the patients where they need to be without any additional time of recovery. According to the journal story Robotic Surgery: the promise and finally the progress from the US National Library of Medicine, it states, “a series of liver resections where 30% of the patients were outpatients or short-stay patients.” Coming from a reliable journal from a U.S. government library. Many service robots offer a great deal of time efficiency with precision that allows doctors to go at q quicker pace without increasing the risk of malpractice. The service robot daVinci, is an example of an automated robotic system that can alleviate many problems. According to The Medical Futurist Institute, which is an organization, that has the manufacturer perspective, who has a team who are determined to help progress medical advancements. They special in medical robotics and to some this can have helped them in adding towards the reliability of medical robots and what they have to offer, but they could also have a bias say in the discussion towards medical robotics. The MFI states, “The surgeons are in complete control of the system always, however as the machine has greater reach and flexibility.” More precision which, again, helps alleviate problems areas with a much lesser risk of error. Human touch in the systems also allows many doctors to keep their jobs by having them direct the systems keeping them relevant in the medical field.
Robotic assisted surgery has many benefits that affect patients directly by “Shortening recovering time”, and indirectly by having surgeons to have ‘better visualization”, according to UCLA Health. UCLA health is a reliable school with up to date evidence that has many well supported pieces of evidence in their findings. UCLA is a top-class school that has highly reliable data since every study they do has to be thoroughly researched and very reliable to make it to the school website. Schools, more specifically colleges, have some of the most reliable research because they have in depth research that must be constantly checked if correct. Schools will also have professors check their work having an experienced individual look over the research. The miniaturized instruments benefit the patients as much as it does to surgeons. These hospitals not only in the U.S. but as well as Europe for a wider range of treatments. Treatments that have “fewer complications, such as surgical site infections, less pain and blood loss, as well as smaller, less noticeable scars,” according to the Mayo Clinic, a reliable source to some since they have a experience in the medical filed, but also that can be used against them since they might be biased to some information. . To many the chance to get medical robotic systems could be the chance to save lives and leave many patients in better conditions.
To what point is it too much to pay for undependable services? Eighteen years ago, the U.S. approved the daVinci, which was a costly robotic system. According to the Washington Post, “Today, machines made by Intuitive surgical, which still offers the only robotic assisted surgical system in the United States can cost up to $2 million.” The Washington Post has a plethora of reliable and credible sources even though still a news outlet it was still a reliable source based on the information provided. These Insanely costly machines were proving to be a waste of money for many hospitals that have barely any malpractice. The same hospitals that were content in trying these automated machineries seen no effect in these machines that costed millions in the U.S. Many other countries were also struggling implementing large amounts of medical robotic systems in the hospitals. Although struggling many countries such as India, did have many services implemented by not everywhere because it would surely cost them a pretty token. In the Washington Post it states, “the group that had robotic surgeries had less pain at a day and a week after surgery, but both groups returned to work equally as fast.” 8 Besides helping patients for a day, the result of implementing such systems had minimal impact in which patients were ready to return to work. For many patients that went through the struggle of gathering money to pay for such procedure might want to reconsider if it really is worth less pain for a day.
Prior to my research I believed that medical robotics would be an effective way of reducing malpractice. Since precision is a major part of medical activities, I noticed the advantages that can come from incorporating such systems. It offers amazing precision only automated systems could offer, but while researching I had run into evidence, such as pricing, that had at times swayed my opinion about medical robotics to the other direction. Robotic systems prices would be too much for low income, third world countries. Areas such as Africa, South and Southeast Asia would struggle in taking in robotic systems due to their lack of income. Besides the affordability problem, many countries such as the U.S. and India are already incorporating, or already to have, robotic systems in service. These countries and their incorporation of medical robots has swayed me back for support of incorporating the systems. More research must be done however. Evidence that shows the effects of medical systems in the medical fields and if it does affect malpractice. Still there is no need to add more resources needed to explore the issue in more depth. The way the issue is being researched has been quite consistent.
- “Medical Malpractice Story: Alexandra Katada.” Centerjd.org, www.centerjd.org/content/medical-malpractice-story-alexandra-katada
- “Robotic surgery.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 10 Feb. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/robotic-surgery/about/pac-20394974
- “Robots and Healthcare Saving Lives Together.” Robotics Online, www.robotics.org/content-detail.cfm/Industrial-Robotics-Industry-Insights/Robots-and-Healthcare-Saving-Lives-Together/content_id/5819
- “Robotics in Healthcare ¬¬- Get Ready!” The Medical Futurist, 9 Aug. 2016, https://medicalfuturist.com/robotics-healthcare/
- Johnson, Carolyn Y. “Expensive robots may not be making surgeons – or patients – much better.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 July 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/07/28/expensive-robots-may-not-be-making-surgeons-or-patients-much-better/?utm_term=.e2c615ee99d8
- “About Robotic Surgery at UCLA.” UCLA Robotic Surgery, www.uclahealth.org/robotic-surgery/what-is-robotic-surgery#isrobotic
- Lang, S, “A European multicenter study evaluating the flex robotic system in transoral robotic surgery.” The Laryngoscope., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27783427
- “Medical Errors Are Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-05-03/medical-errors-are-third-leading-cause-of-death-in-the-us