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Robot Surgeon Beats Humans in World First

Posted by  on 
June 9, 2016

“Wouldn’t it be nice that whenever or wherever you need surgery, it’s done by the best surgeon?”

– Peter Kim, Associate Surgeon In Chief at Children’s National Medical Center.

A surgeon with no pity. No fear. No shaky hands from a bad night’s sleep. Could this be the beginning of the end of surgical malpractice? I hope so.

As a medical malpractice attorney I speak to countless people a year who have been hurt through surgical error. Sometimes that error falls below the standard of care of a surgeon, and that individual has a claim. More often than not though, the surgical error is a known risk of the surgery and although the patient has been hurt, it is not a case of medical malpractice.

What if we could eliminate those risk of complications and the risk of medical malpractice through the use of robotic surgeons? For the first time a supervised autonomous robot performed soft-tissue surgery better than a human surgeon, stitching together a pig’s bowel during open surgery. (CNN: Would you let a robot perform your surgery by itself?). The “Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot,” or STAR, was tested against manual surgery, laparoscopy, and robot-assisted surgery for the surgery on the pig’s bowel, and found that the supervised autonomous surgery offered by the STAR system was superior. (Science Translational Medicine, May 4, 2016).

One of the most amazing aspects of this breakthrough is that the robot makes the choice of where the sutures should go, based on its vision and pressure. Although we’re still a long way from robot surgeons doing the majority of surgeries, one can hope that as this new technology develops, it saves more lives and reduces the need for the legal system to be involved in medicine.

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