Benefits of da Vinci Surgical Robot overstated to prospective patients

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Hospitals across America aren’t going too far to find information to post on their Web sites to hype the value and benefits of the da Vinci Surgical Robot but going almost nowhere to provide any actual safety data.

According to a review of information posted online by 432 hospitals that offer the da Vinci Surgical Robot, very few had anything more than a copy of advertising copy and “boilerplate” information to offer would-be patients. Most patients would have been hard-pressed to find any clinical studies that examined the benefits of the da Vinci robot. 

The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University, according to a Reuters report on its release this week. The results of the study are now published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. The lead researcher said he uses surgical robot technology but said there must be some hesitation in believing there are no drawbacks and hospitals are not providing a fair interpretation of the device. A lack of available safety data should create more concern than excitement.

Only 15 percent of the more than 400 hospital-provided sites that had information on the da Vinci robot service at their facility provided any access or referenced clinical safety data.

The da Vinci robot was first approved to perform prostate cancer surgeries on men but its uses have expanded and it is now done to perform hundreds of thousands of surgeries, including gallbladder surgeries and those to treat endometriosis and cervical cancer.