Robots killed 144 people… in surgery, over the past 14 years, in the US. But fear not, they are not here to exterminate us. These are robotic surgery instruments which malfunctioned due to various problems during operations. The great majority of robotic surgeries are still a success. Still, besides deaths, these robots also injured around one thousand patients over the same period.
The events that led to the errors in surgery were pretty diverse, though – these include instruments which broke during operation and fell inside the patients’ bodies, sparks of electricity which, obviously, caused internal burns, as well as system errors. The latter cause delayed the procedures considerably, as they required doctors to intervene in a procedure that would have taken considerably less if done by a doctor from the beginning.
However, there are still many surgical procedures carried by robots which end in complete success. The authors of the report say that this is not the issue. This is not intended to spread paranoia all over the U.S., despite the title of this article. So don’t be scared, you’re probably safe.
The actual issue, the study says, should be the new regulations that should be drafted to prevent the use of faulty equipment, especially in cases when robots are operating said equipment. The report also says that more technologically advanced techniques in the way these robotic surgery devices are being designed and operated should reduce the number of accidents that happen.
As more and more robots replace humans in standard procedures, the question is raised of what the number of casualties would realistically be in these cases. The answer, many believe, should be zero, as that is the point of replacing humans with robots in these areas where there is a need for precision surgery.
There are warnings though that the report (drafted by the Food and Drug Administration of the U.S.) should not be taken so readily as true. There is a problem in that it does not give a reason for many of the deaths. There is the possibility of complications arising from areas which could not have been controlled by the robot.
Complications, as any surgeon will tell you, are inherent in surgical procedures, and oftentimes cannot be avoided.
The data was recorded from 1.7 million procedures carried out by robots in the US, from the beginning of the year 2000 to the end of 2013. Of these, there were 8,061 device malfunctions, 1391 injuries, and as was said, 144 deaths.
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