Intuitive Surgical Inc., the maker of a $1.5 million robot surgery system, told doctors last month that friction in the arms of some of its devices could cause the unit to stall. That was the second warning the company had issued about its products in the span of a month. The company sent an “urgent medical device recall” on Nov. 11, alerting customers of the problem, which affects 1,386 of the systems worldwide. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) put this information in a Dec. 3 notice on its website. The stalling may result in a sudden “catch-up” if the surgeon pushes through the resistance, the agency said.
Bloomberg News reported that Intuitive was facing growing questions about its marketing strategies, training procedures and the safety of its devices. The FDA said recently that the number of adverse event reports, including deaths, injuries and system malfunctions, had more than doubled in 2013 as of Nov. 3, compared with all of 2012. The FDA said on its website:
Reports of friction within certain instrument arms can interrupt smooth instrument motion. This can be felt by the surgeon as resistance in the movement of the master. In this situation, the instrument can stall momentarily and then suddenly catch-up to the master position if the surgeon pushes through the resistance.
Intuitive’s sales and share price took a sharp hit last year. On Oct. 17, Intuitive reported a decline in third-quarter earnings as a result of lower revenue. The company had lost 29 percent of its value in the 12 months through Dec. 3, 2013. Bloomberg first reported in February that the FDA was looking into the challenges surgeons face with the robotic systems. These systems were first approved by the FDA in 2000 after a trial of 233 patients done at a hospital in Mexico City. A survey by the agency released on Nov. 8 included 11 doctors who have performed from 70 to 600 robot surgeries each. While the unidentified surgeons said the device led to fewer complications and shorter recoveries, they reported incidents in which robot arms collided or missed a mark and they all said training was an issue.
In October, the company sent an “urgent medical device correction” letter to users warning of potential problems with metal coating on a lamp that may not be compatible with the control board. Hopefully, the problems identified will be corrected.
Sources: Birmingham News and Claims Journal
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.