Joint Commission Finds Increasing Reports Of Adverse Events Associated With Robotic Surgery

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The Joint Commission, a nonprofit accreditation group that certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs across America, has issued a new safety report finding an increasing number of Sentinel Events – i.e., adverse and unintended injuries or deaths during medical procedures – associated with robotic surgeries.

“Of 34 reports that affected 36 patients, 27 are related to unintended retained foreign objects (URFOs), and seven are related to operative or postoperative complications,” according to the report. “The complications are usually due to hemorrhage caused by laceration. Other reported complications include injury to surrounding tissue, and serious injury (including blindness) related to prolonged surgery. These complications are consistent with the risks of this new technology as reported in current literature.”

While the number of injuries stemming from robotic surgeries is sure to rise as the technology becomes increasingly commonplace, the Joint Commission warns that providers and physicians should take the necessary precautions to guard against adverse events involving robotic surgery since complications associated with such procedures include both the inherent risks of invasive surgery as well as the risks of mechanical failures. The group’s recommendations include developing credentialing guidelines for robotic surgeries, enhancing staff training, improving communication, and standardizing operating room procedures.

Read the Joint Commission’s full report and recommendations here.