Another patient lawsuit joined the bandwagon this week in claiming Intuitive Surgical’s (NSDQ:ISRG) da Vinci robot-assisted surgery system was to blame in a botched hysterectomy, this one claiming that the device’s proliferation is owed in part to overly aggressive marketing practices.
"Defendant sold it [sic] device through a calculated program of intimidation and market management, forcing hospitals and physicians to purchase it in order to appear to be competitive, and creating a fear in their minds that if they did not have this technology they would lose business to competitors," according to the legal complaint.
The lawsuit involves injuries that Patricia Mayfield, age 43, sustained following a hysterectomy performed with the da Vinci system performed at the Nelson Center for Women in Meridian Mississippi.
Her physician, Dr. Virginia Nelson, allegedly gave Mayfield brochures and documents "propounding the benefit of da Vinci robotic hysterectomy over all other methods of hysterectomy."
Less than 1 week after the procedure, Mayfield was returned to the hospital with a fever and "shaking chills," and doctors treated her for a pelvic abscess along the vaginal cuff. She underwent subsequent surgery to evaluate the abscess, and continues to have pain and discomfort years later, according to the complaint.
It’s unclear from court filings precisely how the da Vinci system allegedly caused the injury, with the prime complaint referencing a lack of sufficient information for physicians and patients to help them understand the potential risks of robot-assisted surgery.
The lawsuit accuses Intuitive of suppressing complaints and concealing rates of complications from the public and the FDA. Additional allegations include lack of proper physician training, insufficient post-marketing surveillance and comparison testing and over-promotion of the da Vinci system.
Personal injury lawsuits have slowly begun cropping up against the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based device maker following last month’s case involving a father who claimed his 24-year-old daughter’s death 2 weeks after a hysterectomy stemmed from complications from da Vinci surgery.
Another lawsuit filed mid-April is aiming for nearly $500 million in damages for injuries sustained the patient’s left ureter and bladder following a hysterectomy with the da Vinci system.
Intuitive Surgical was not immediately available for comment.
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