Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC

Over $8,000,000 in verdicts and settlements in past 3 years.
More than 60 years of combined experience.

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How robots are improving medical outcomes

People in Montana and throughout the country may be increasingly treated using robots during diagnosis and surgery, and researchers say that this will lead to more positive outcomes. One of those devices is a 3D-printed robot that researchers say can enter an MRI chamber and do biopsies for suspected breast cancer. In tests that involved taking biopsies from model breasts, the robotic system was accurate to a sub-millimeter degree. Currently, breast biopsies are done using a larger needle; they may require several attempts and are less efficient.

The device, known as Stormram 4, is made of plastic since metal cannot be used in an MRI, and researchers use air pressure to control it. It will be several years before the device is approved: There must be further testing and development before it meets regulatory standards.

Other robotic devices are also under development that will be used in conjunction with MRIs. For example, one will be used in prostate cancer therapy for brachytherapy seed implantation. Another will be responsible for automated lead placement during a type of neurosurgery for people with Parkinson’s disease. All are expected to lead to improvements in treatment.

While some medical errors occur because of the limits of technology and knowledge, others may be cases of medical malpractice. Two of the criteria for a successful medical malpractice lawsuit are demonstrating that the patient did not receive a reasonable standard of care and that harm was caused to the patient. For example, a breast biopsy could be performed or read inaccurately, leading to a failure to diagnose cancer. This might lead to a setback in a person’s treatment and could even be fatal. In some medical malpractice cases, a patient or the patient’s family might receive an offer of an out-of-court settlement.