Husband sues tech company after wife burned and killed by surgical robot

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Published Feb 13, 2024 at 12:12 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

In a chilling medical nightmare, a Florida woman battling colon cancer met a gruesome end during a surgical procedure involving a da Vinci surgical robot at Baptist Health Boca Raton Regional Hospital. Sandra Sultzer’s small intestine was horrifically burned by the machine, leading to a series of harrowing follow-up procedures that ultimately claimed her life in February 2022.

Now, in a heart-wrenching twist, her grieving husband, Harvey Sultzer, is unleashing a legal battle against the ominous creator of the surgical robot, Intuitive Surgical, Inc. The lawsuit alleges that Sultzer’s tragic demise was a “direct and proximate result” of the robot’s actions, plunging the realm of robotic surgery into the spotlight.

This surgical robot has previously faced the scrutiny of the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), leaving a haunting trail of injuries in its wake. The FDA’s investigation uncovered reports of the robot device sporting ominous cracks in a “small rubber sleeve” on a metallic piece. This flaw acted as a conduit for electricity to escape, causing internal burns and transforming medical procedures into scenes from a horror movie.

The legal complaint contends that Intuitive not only sells its robotic systems to hospitals lacking experience in robotic surgery but also falls short in adequately training surgeons to use the device. Despite offering a training program, a 2018 NBC News investigation uncovered that the company lacks the legal authority to enforce surgeons’ completion of the training. Intuitive Surgical has not provided a response to a request for comment. Jack Scarola, the Florida attorney representing Harvey Sultzer, stated that neither he nor his client has any additional comments beyond the allegations outlined in the lawsuit.

Unfortunately, the innocent pursuit of medical advancement paved the way for a dark reality, making patients more susceptible to horrifying burns at the hands of these robotic entities.

The lawsuit by Sultzer emerges as a desperate cry for justice. Are these robotic entities, initially designed to enhance surgical capabilities, turning into malevolent menaces with the potential to inflict harm?

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