Robot Surgery Damaging Patients Rises With Marketing


Robert Langreth
Bloomberg
Oct. 8, 2013

Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver announced last year that Warren Kortz, a general surgeon on the medical staff, was the first in the Rocky Mountain region to use a technique known as robotic surgery to remove gall bladders through one incision in the belly button.

The operation, performed while the doctor sits at a video-game-like console, was “taking advantage of another breakthrough in robotic surgery” and is “easier on the patient,” the hospital said in a press release.

[...] What the hospital and Kortz didn’t reveal was the risk. Even as Kortz promoted robotic surgery, 10 patients he treated suffered injuries or complications between 2008 and 2011, according to an April complaint by the Colorado Medical Board. Five had arteries punctured or torn. Objects were temporarily left inside two, and others had nerve damage. One died and another needed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The complaint charges Kortz with 14 counts of unprofessional conduct, including sometimes not advising patients on alternatives to the robot.

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