Robot-assisted surgery lawsuits to begin this week | On Call

MassDevice On Call

MASSDEVICE ON CALL — The 1st in a series of lawsuits against Intuitive Surgical’s (NSDQ:ISRG) is set to begin this week in Washington, with a state court prepared to hear opening arguments accusing the company of failing to provide sufficient training to surgeons using the device.

There are at least a dozen lawsuits against Intuitive Surgical and the da Vinci robot-assisted surgical system, some from patients who claim they were permanently injured and others filed by families of patients who died after undergoing surgery.

The 1st case to proceed to trial was filed by the family of Fred Taylor, a patient who died after undergoing prostatectomy by a surgeon using the da Vinci system. The procedure that allegedly led to Taylor’s death was the surgeon’s 1st unsupervised robot-assisted surgery, Bloomberg reported.

Taylor’s family filed the lawsuit against Intuitive Surgical, claiming his death was the result of heart failure that stemmed from the procedure and that surgeon Dr. Scott Bildsten wasn’t properly properly prepared to perform the operation solo.

Intuitive Surgical last month lost a bid to have the case dismissed as "an educational malpractice claim," which most states don’t accept, according to Intuitive’s lawyers. Washington Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay Roof concluded that state laws require that medical device makers train healthcare providers on proper use of their products.

The medical device company has had a run of bad luck lately as a few stark headlines dragged shares down. ISRG shares dropped 11% in 1 day on February 28 on news that the FDA was conducting a survey of da Vinci robot users, asking for details about an apparent rise in complications associated with the device and seeking tips on best use and training.

Shares have been climbing back over the course of April, closing at $509.99 last night from an open of $492.87 on April 1.

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