A woman allegedly died after a surgical robot “burned a hole in her intestines,” causing a fatal internal leak, a lawsuit claims.
Sandra Sulzer, 78, from Boca Raton, California, died in 2022 after undergoing surgery to treat her colon cancer using a da Vinci robot a year ago.
The four-armed device is activated by a doctor using a camera, while the surgeon uses a joystick and pedals to control the robot's arms from a console.
But the lawsuit, filed by the victim's husband, alleges that an electrical short occurred when the robotic arms were cutting the patient's body tissue.
According to the plaintiff, stray electrical energy from the machine's arms led to the burning of Sandra Sulzer's internal organs without the knowledge of the surgical team.
The suit alleges that Ms. Sulzer suffered burns to her small intestine as a result of this failure.
The burns caused by the electric arc were not noticed because it was outside the doctor's vision area.
“If ISI had designed its product so that stray electrical energy would not burn patients' insides without the knowledge or control of surgeons, Ms. Sulzer's small intestine injury would not have occurred. She would not have died,” the lawsuit said.
This is not the first time da Vinci robots have caused undue harm to patients.
The suit also states that Intuitive Surgical Inc., the company that made the tool, received “thousands of reports of injuries and defects.”
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