Surgery on humans using robots has been touted by some as a safer way to get your innards repaired – and now the figures are in for you to judge.
A team of university eggheads have counted up the number of medical cockups in America reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 2000 to 2013, and found there were 144 deaths during robot-assisted surgery, 1,391 injuries, and 8,061 counts of device malfunctions.
If that sounds terrible, consider that 1.7 million robo-operations were carried out between 2007 and 2013. Whether you’re impressed or appalled, the number of errors has the experts mildly concerned, and they want better safety mechanisms.
“Despite widespread adoption of robotic systems for minimally invasive surgery, a non-negligible number of technical difficulties and complications are still being experienced during procedures,” concludes the study [PDF], which was conducted by bods from MIT, Rush University Medical Center, and the University of Illinois.
Two deaths and 52 injuries were caused when the mechanical surgeon spontaneously powered down mid operation or made an incorrect movement. In another 10.5 per cent of recorded malfunctions, electrical sparks burned patients, resulting in 193 injuries.
A major problem, surprisingly, was that one death and 119 injuries were caused by pieces of the robot falling off into the patient, requiring a human surgical team to intervene and retrieve the broken hardware. 18 injuries were caused when the video systems on the human surgeon’s console borked out mid-surgery.