HomeFlorida NewsCalifornia-based surgical robot manufacturer sued over Florida woman’s death post-robotic surgery

California-based surgical robot manufacturer sued over Florida woman’s death post-robotic surgery


Florida – Harvey Sultzer from Florida is taking legal action against Intuitive Surgical Inc., a California-based manufacturer. The lawsuit, initiated on February 6 in the Southern District of Florida, stems from the tragic loss of Sultzer’s wife, Sandra Sultzer, who succumbed to complications following colon cancer surgery in September 2021 at Boca Raton Regional Hospital. The operation was performed using the company’s advanced da Vinci robotic system, a multi-armed, remote-controlled device priced at $1.47 million.

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The lawsuit alleges that the da Vinci robot, known for its precision in surgical procedures, was fundamentally flawed in its design and marketing, posing significant risks to patients. According to the legal complaint, Sandra Sultzer suffered a thermal injury to her small intestine, leading to a perforation that was not immediately apparent. Despite undergoing additional surgeries to rectify the complication, she continued to experience severe abdominal pain and fever, ultimately leading to her untimely death.

The lawsuit specifically points to the plastic sleeves of the medical instruments used in the surgery, which were reportedly prone to cracking. This defect heightened the risk of electricity escaping during the operation, causing unintended injury to the patient’s internal tissues. The plaintiff argues that a safer design by Intuitive Surgical could have prevented the tragic outcome, accusing the company of negligence, design defects, and failure to adequately warn about the potential hazards associated with the device.

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Intuitive Surgical has responded to the lawsuit by reaffirming the safety and efficacy of the da Vinci surgical system. The company highlighted its comprehensive training programs for surgeons, emphasizing that while it provides technology training, it does not instruct on the practice of medicine itself. Intuitive Surgical also expressed its condolences to families affected by surgical complications but stood by the extensive evidence supporting the device’s safety, as demonstrated by over 14 million successful procedures and a vast body of scientific literature.

Despite these assurances, the lawsuit challenges the company’s claims, suggesting that the da Vinci robot, despite its higher costs, does not guarantee superior outcomes compared to traditional surgical methods. Furthermore, the complaint references “approximately 93” product-liability lawsuits involving the device, indicating a history of legal scrutiny over its safety.

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Harvey Sultzer seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney fees, through the lawsuit. He is advocating for a jury trial, hoping to bring attention to what he perceives as significant risks posed by robotic surgery devices.

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