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RCS response to US study on robotic surgery systems

22 Jul 2015

A recent study by The Cornell University Library in the US: Adverse Events in Robotic Surgery, A Retrospective Study of 14 Years of FDA Data, found that robotic surgery systems were involved in the deaths of 144 people between 2000 and 2013. It cites that the death rate for head, neck, and cardiothoracic surgery is almost 10 times higher than for other forms of surgery in the US.

This research is reported on the BBC website and a spokesperson for the Royal College of Surgeons said:

“Incidents where medical devices cause death or injury must be acted upon quickly by authorities that regulate medical devices. Medical device companies, NHS hospitals, and doctors all have a duty to report adverse incidents.

“Robots are not yet widely used in the United Kingdom and so this US-based study will add to important discussions about the advantages and disadvantages of robotic surgery. However, the report must be treated with caution. The authors note ‘little or no information was provided in the [adverse incident] reports’ about the cause of the majority of deaths, meaning they could be related to risks or complications inherent during surgery. The authors do not compare the level of complications in surgery where robots are not used, nor do they examine the benefits of robotic surgery which are starting to be reported.”

Notes to editor:

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care.For more information please contact: 020 7869 6047/6052 and out-of hours: 07966 486 832; or email:

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