Kitsap trial spotlights failed robotic surgery

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by LINDA BYRON / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @LByronK5

KING5.com

Posted on May 20, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Updated Monday, May 20 at 10:54 PM

Many doctors are using robots to help them with delicate surgeries because they're less invasive and can mean faster recovery. But a Bremerton woman is suing the makers of a widely used robot after her husband's operation failed.

Closing arguments got underway Monday afternoon in the trial that's being watched by doctors and hospitals nationwide.

Fred Taylor of Bremerton and his wife Josette loved being on the go in their retirement years.  When Fred needed prostate surgery in 2008, he agreed to a procedure with the Da Vinci robot.

A promotional video shows a surgeon guiding a Da Vinci robot's tiny multi-directional arms from a remote console. Robotic surgery is billed as safer, less painful and with faster recovery than traditional surgery.

It was a disaster for 67-year-old Fred Taylor, who was left with memory loss, incontinence, a torn rectum, kidney and lung damage and a stroke. He survived for four years, but the life he'd known was over.

After Taylor died, his wife and children sued Intuitive Surgical, makers of the Da Vinci robot, alleging they misled Taylor's doctor into thinking using the robot was so easy he only needed one day of training at the company's headquarters and two supervised operations before going it alone on Fred Taylor. 

Josette’s attorneys are urging jurors to award her and her family $ 4 million in damages to compensate them for the company's negligence.

“They worked hard for their retirement had a right to enjoy it,” said attorney Richard Freidman, who represents Josette Taylor and the couple’s three children.

Intuitive's attorneys blame Taylor’s doctor, claiming he was told not to use the robot on obese patients like Taylor for his first unsupervised surgeries. 

The company also says that and traumatic injuries occurred after the robot was turned off and the doctor had switched back to traditional surgical methods.

The trial continues Tuesday with attorneys for Intuitive Surgical presenting their closing arguments. 

The doctor and hospital have already settled in the case. 
 

       

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