Robotic Surgery: Retained Robot Part; Hospital May Be Liable for Damages, Florida Court Rules

April 4, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Health System


​​​A hospital has a nondelegable duty to adhere to applicable standards of safety regarding the performance of robotic surgery by surgeons who are independent members of its medical staff, a Florida court of appeals held. The court issued the ruling in a malpractice case that a deceased patient's legal representative brought against the hospital and other defendants, alleging that the patient died from preventable complications of robotic surgery performed to repair his paraesophageal hernia and as a result of other acts of negligence.

The plaintiff claimed that when the patient underwent robotic surgery in July 2009, part of the surgical robot detached and became embedded in his esophagus, causing him to suffer complications over the following months and years. In July 2012, the patient underwent a second surgery by a different surgeon at a different hospital to determine the cause of his worsening symptoms, but the surgery was unsuccessful; six months later, he underwent another unsuccessful exploratory surgery. During that surgery, his vena cava ruptured, causing blood loss, cardiac arrest, and ultimately death. Autopsy revealed the presence of a thin, coiled band encircling the gastroesophageal junction. The plaintiff claimed the band was part of the surgical robot that became detached during the first surgery in 2009. The plaintiff also alleged that a foreign object was observed on a computed tomography (CT) scan performed...

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