Here are some of the latest health and medical news
developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
FDA Probing Problems With Robotic Surgery System
There has been a huge increase in the use of a surgical robot
called da Vinci, but health officials are investigating reports of
a number of problems --including several deaths -- associated with
The robot was used in nearly 400,000 surgeries in the United
States last year, triple the number compared to four years earlier,
The da Vinci is used in a number of procedures, including
removal of gallbladders, wombs and prostates, heart valve repair,
organ transplants and reducing stomach size. Surgeons control the
robot while sitting at a computer screen.
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating
reports of problems with the da Vinci and the high cost of using
the system. Those incidents include: a robotic hand that would not
release tissue grasped during surgery; a woman who died when a
blood vessel was nicked during a hysterectomy; and a man whose
colon was perforated during prostate surgery, the
Some doctors say aggressive marketing and the technological
appeal of the robot have helped increase its use and that it is
time to take a closer look at the device. They contend that there
is not enough proof that robotic surgery is at least as good or
better than conventional surgeries.
Proponents say patients who undergo robotic surgery sometimes
have less bleeding and often leave hospital sooner than those who
have conventional laparoscopic or open surgery, the
However, the FDA is looking into an increase in the number of
reported problems involving the da Vinci system. At least five
deaths are mentioned in reports filed since early last year.
The da Vinci is the only FDA-approved robotic system for
soft-tissue surgery. Other robotic devices are approved for other
types of operations, including neurosurgery and orthopedic
Important Court Date for Players' Legal Action Against NFL
A federal judge will hear arguments Tuesday on the NFL's motion
to dismiss former players' legal action against the league.
More than 4,000 players have filed more than 200 lawsuits
against the NFL. A master complaint filed by a committee of lawyers
representing the players alleges that the NFL "deliberately ignored
and actively concealed" the risks of repetitive brain injuries and
their long-term impact, including depression and dementia,
The players are seeking monetary damages and the creation of an
NFL-funded, court-supervised monitoring system for all players.
The hearing on the NFL's motion to dismiss the master complaint
will be heard in Philadelphia by U.S. District Judge Anita Brody.
She is not expected to make an immediate ruling. And after she
rules, there will be appeals,
Too Many Beeping Alarms Can Lead to Patient Deaths: Joint
At least two dozen deaths occur each year on average in the
United States due to hospital workers becoming desensitized to
constantly beeping alarms from devices used to monitor the vital
signs of critically ill patients, according to a hospital
And the Joint Commission said it is likely that the number of
such cases are vastly underreported, the
The devices include those that monitor things such as blood
pressure and heart rate. Some beep when they're not working and
others do so when there is an emergency. All this can cause noise
fatigue in medical staff and treatment delays that can endanger
patients' lives, according to the commission.
It's database contains reports of 80 deaths and 13 severe
injuries associated with hospital alarms between January 2009 and
June 2012. Hospitals voluntarily report these incidents to the
There is no standardization for what all the beeps on patient
monitoring devices mean, noted Dr. Ana McKee, the commission's
executive vice president and chief medical officer.
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