New Surgical Technologies: Are Operations Safer Now?
Medical malpractice is a concern for both patients and doctors. Patients are concerned about debilitating injuries and possible death while medical professionals are concerned about malpractice premiums and injuries to their patients. Malpractice is a greater concern in some specialties than others. Of all the various areas of medicine, surgeons represent all five of the five highest fields at risk of a lawsuit for medical malpractice. It is no surprise that surgeons are turning to advancements in technology to help reduce the incidences of patient injury.
One of the most promising advancements for surgeons in coming years is the proliferation of robotic assistance. Major surgery usually entails long recovery times and a risk of complications from infection. Any measures that can be taken to minimize the invasiveness of a particular operation will reduce the complications, reduce recovery times, and increase the probabilities of a successful outcome. Robotic surgery permits doctors to make smaller incisions, insert small robotic arms with specific attachments tailored for an operation into the body cavity, and perform an operation. This leads to fewer side effects and a reduced incidence rate of patient injury, which results in fewer medical malpractice claims.
Robotic surgery implements several different technologies to increase the probability of success. Improvements in small, high-resolution cameras permit doctors to obtain close-up images in detail and at angles that they normally would not be able to obtain, thus reducing the possibility of inadvertently nicking an artery or cutting into an organ. Improvements in precision controls permit the doctors to make fine adjustments and have the machine replicate their actions exactly. Improvements in motor technology permit the doctors to make movements at a full 360-degree angle rather than only at specified angles.
Additionally, the reduction in incisions and exposure to infection results in a reduction in post-operation pharmaceutical requirements. Painkillers and antibiotics have their own side effects, including nausea, constipation, and a risk to acquire tolerance. A faster recovery time with less pain, which increases patient comfort, will result in fewer patient complaints and thus, fewer frivolous malpractice suits.
Even with these advancements though, the possibility of medical malpractice is still present as a Los Angeles or even Syracuse medical malpractice attorney may attest. Currently, doctors must still control the machines. A quality machine will mimic the doctor’s movements exactly, but a doctor must guide them. Quality cameras will provide doctors with a plethora of information, but they must still interpret it. Attachments may be able to make clean incisions and clamp arteries, but doctors must choose the correct attachment for the job. The possibility for human error is still present, thus so is the risk for medical malpractice.
When a patient is injured as a result of medical negligence, the negligent party may be liable for medical malpractice. This is essentially and instance where negligence causes problems; doctors have a duty to provide care that exceeds standards. If the doctor fails to live up to that duty, and if that failure causes an injury, the doctor will be liable for medical malpractice. Despite the occasional massive jury award for gross negligence and the increase in medical malpractice premiums, medical malpractice claims have decreased since the 1980’s. At present, 78 percent of medical malpractice claims do not result in a payment to the plaintiff. However, payouts for successful claims are increasing.
The proliferation of precision implements that permit surgeons to operate on patients with minimal invasiveness will probably decrease the events of medical malpractice even further. However, the human element will always be present in medical care. With this human element come fatigue, inexperience, and even incompetence. As a result, there will always be individuals injured by human error. When a patient is injured as a result of medical malpractice, it is important for them to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.