Victims and attorneys have been complaining about da Vinci robotic surgery pr0blems and have made their voice heard by filing lawsuits. The financial exposure of these suits is, I’m sure, a concern of Intuitive Systems. But, I think the voices they listen to the most are those on Wall Street.
What is Wall Street saying? There is a concern now that all of these complications with these da Vinci robots are not yet baked into Intuitive System’s stock price which, despite a surge today, has already taken a beating this year.
These robots are not being purchased or bragged about by hospitals as they have been just last year. The company has blamed the drop in sales on the lack of hospital dollars for new technologies.
But so far this year, there have been 4,603 adverse event records that have been posted for da Vinci. Sure, it is a big country. But let’s put this in context. There were 4603 reports about this technology over the last 12 years.
It gets worse. In August, the number of injury or death events rose to 103, which is the triple that of any other month.
Wall Street is a bit slow in figuring all of this out, but now it is asking the same question lawyers have been asking for a few years.
One thing that has kept the panic low on robotic surgery is that there has been little public outcry about these botched surgeries. Why? One analyst that has gotten so much of the recent buzz going says something that is simultaneously true and creepy: no one famous or powerful has been badly hurt or killed yet by complications of a robotic procedure. If that happens, the shrinking balloon of da Vinci sales might pop along with that $400 stock price.
Da Vinci Hysterectomies
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has already said that a hysterectomy is not clinically superior to handheld laparoscopic surgery for routine hysterectomy. But this procedure is the top seller for Intuitive. Victims in their legal complaints have asked how so many bowel punctures and burns can happen in such a routine surgery. That has been met with strong denials from the company. But now Wall Street is asking that exact question?
What Does This All Mean?
The analyst who expressed the “wait until someone famous gets hurt” sentiment writes a summary that fits neatly into the commentary on this blog:
Again, Citron is not saying that, for some patient conditions, the da Vinci is not an effective tool in the hands of a skilled surgeon highly experienced in its use. But the choice to use it in a given surgery should be a matter of the doctor’s judgment, after impartially weighing all options, armed with the best clinical science with regards to standards of care, in light of the specifics of the patient’s condition. It should never be influenced by a salesperson who has access to patient charts. And it is past time to stop one-sided and misleading marketing to patients, without full disclosure of the risks.
This is exactly what I have been saying. I need to go back and see if this was stolen from a prior post of mine. (Nope.) The product is not all bad. We will probably find, as some studies have shown, that it works quite well for some procedures. I think we will also find they will get a tighter handle on the technology. But we have to be honest about what it is. That honestly will hurt sales and the stock price. But it beats the alternative of more injuries and deaths which, eventually, will destroy the stock price.
How Much Are da Vinci Lawsuits Worth?
Maybe people want to know the value of their claims. There are a lot of lawsuits out there and Intuitive Systems has been trying to settle these cases. But how much will Intuitive Systems pay to settle these claims? My guess is that the majority of these cases will settle for somewhere between $150,000 and $350,000. There will be cases outside of that range. Death cases and some permanent injury cases will be more. There will also be weaker cases that will settle for much less. But my prediction – and against it is just a personal prediction – is that most of the cases will reach an out-of-court resolution in this range.
September 2014 Update: Settlements have been coming. I was right and wrong. A lot of these cases did settle between $150,000 and $300,000 just like I said. But there are a lot of smaller cases where the injuries were less significant or the liability or the connection to the da Vinci was weak those cases are settling for a lot less.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you or a loved one has suffered any negative effects as a result of a da Vinci robotic surgery, protect your rights. Call us at 800-553-8082 or talk to us online. There is no fee or cost for you in pursuing your claim unless you win a recovery.
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