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Denver Surgeon's Use of Robot Leads to Unprofessional Conduct Charges

Warren Kortz, MD, accused of botching surgery and leaving instruments inside patients.

Published: April 12, 2013

The Colorado Medical Board has filed 14 counts of unprofessional conduct against surgeon Warren Kortz, MD, in relation to his use of the da Vinci surgical robot in a series of failed surgeries from 2008 to 2010.

The complaint, filed earlier this month, cites the cases of 11 patients at Porter Adventist Hospital. It alleges that Dr. Kortz cut and tore blood vessels, left sponges and instruments inside his patients, injured patients through improper padding and positioning, subjected some to overly long surgeries and had to abort kidney donations because of mistakes. Dr. Kortz also failed to document the mistakes in patient charts, says the medical board.

Some of those counts stem from Dr. Kortz's use of a robotic surgery arm while he performed surgeries at Porter Adventist. A lawsuit filed against Dr. Kortz accuses him of misrepresenting the success rate of the machine. The suit alleges Dr. Kortz "told patients the safest, best option for them was the robot" and that he "never offered standard surgical procedures as an option for his patients." His lawyer is quoted as refuting those allegations in publishing reports.

A hearing for the Colorado Medical Board to review the complaint against Dr. Kortz has been scheduled for May. The complaint comes as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it is looking into reports about mishaps with the da Vinci robotic units and whether surgeons are under undue pressure to use them.

An attorney representing Dr. Kortz on the state charges declined comment, according to a report in the Denver Post.

Dan O'Connor

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