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Artificial intelligence in the operating room

| May 18, 2016 | Medical Malpractice |

People in North Carolina who have had surgery may have had it done with the assistance of artificial intelligence, and in the future, robots may perform surgery instead of surgeons. In a study, a robot under supervision did a better job than human surgeons of performing soft-tissue surgery. Suturing and reconnecting bowel segments from a pig, a machine did well on both accuracy and precision.

Robots are already in use in various types of surgery. The da Vinci surgical system assists in complex surgeries, and robots are used to reduce invasive internal explorations and access tumors that are otherwise difficult to reach. The associate surgeon-in-chief at the Children’s National Medical Center and the project lead for the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot says that the robots will help people receive the best care possible. He does not predict that artificial intelligence will replace surgeons in the operating room but instead that they can perform some of the more routine tasks and leave the more sophisticated ones for humans.

The hope is that with medical errors possibly in third place as the leading cause of death, more robotic surgery will reduce or eliminate those errors. There are still ethical issues to iron out such as where responsibility lies if there is an error.

At present, surgical errors and other mistakes in medicine are generally considered to be the responsibility of the medical provider. These mistakes might also include missed or wrong diagnoses and medication errors. In some cases, these errors can significantly reduce the quality of care a patient receives or adversely affect their recovery. When this happens, the injured patient might want to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. If a court rules that the patient failed to receive a reasonable standard of medical care, the patient might receive compensation.

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