Home >  News >  February, 2011

Prostatectomy Patient Who Urinated Out of His Rectum and Defecated Out of His Penis Suing Robot Maker

Patient says broken DaVinci robot caused a perforated colon that led to disturbing GI complications.

Published: February 25, 2011

Thomas Dulski was on his way home from the hospital when he sensed that his robotic prostatectomy had gone terribly wrong. He began urinating out of his rectum and noticed that dark matter was coming out of his penis. "I started defecating out of my penis and releasing gas through the penis," said Mr. Dulski, in court documents. "I kind of panicked at that point."

Mr. Dulski is suing Intuitive Surgical, the manufacturer of the DaVinci robot, for negligence and product liability. In a lawsuit filed in March 2010, Mr. Dulski, of West Seneca, N.Y., claims that Intuitive and its field engineer were negligent because they let surgeons at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo use a defective robot that had been repaired 21 times at a cost of nearly $200,000. Intuitive knew, or should have known, that the robot was defective, claims Mr. Dulski, in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Buffalo.

In January 2007, Dr. Dulski went to Mercy for a radical prostatectomy to be performed with the robot. There were serious problems with the robot during the procedure, according to court records, and the device created a hole in Mr. Dulski's colon. The surgeon, Christopher Kopp, MD, said in his operative report that the robot malfunctioned several times. When he and the technicians couldn't get it working properly, he decided to convert to an open procedure. "It was very frustrating and technical[ly] difficult with the machine when the machine kept malfunctioning," wrote Dr. Kopp. After surgery, Mr. Dulski went to recovery in good condition, according to the report.

Mr. Dulski had to undergo 4 subsequent surgeries, use a catheter to urinate and wear a colostomy bag. He suffered incontinence and erectile dysfunction. While he'd originally sued Dr. Kopp for malpractice, but as the robot's extensive maintenance record was revealed, his attorneys redirected the case towards Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intuitive Surgical.

Intuitive Surgical's attorney in Buffalo declined comment for this article because the litigation is ongoing. Mr. Dulski's attorney did not respond to a request for comment before deadline. After a dispute over the jurisdiction of the issue, the case will continue next month in federal court.

Kent Steinriede


Also in the News...

Music Is as Good as Sedative in Calming Nerves Before Surgery
Jury: Orthopedic Surgeon's Routine of Performing 14 Concurrent Surgeries a Day Negligent
Federal Court Dismisses More Than 5,000 Lawsuits Against 3M's Patient Warming System
Study Finds Sedation Method Doesn't Affect Adenoma Detection Rate
Negligence Suit: Reckless Intraoperative Neuromonitoring During Spinal Surgery Led to Deadly Catastrophic Hypoxic Brain Injury
Class Action: 600 Ex-employees Sue Laser Spine Institute for 2 Months of Pay and Benefits
Senator Creates Firestorm With Nurses Playing Cards Comment

New to Outpatient Surgery Magazine?
Sign-up to continue reading this article.
Register Now
Have an account? Please log in:
Email Address:
  Remember my login on this computer

advertiser banner

Other Articles That May Interest You

Do You Need a Robot to Replace Knees?

Some orthopedic surgeons say the technology noticeably improves outcomes. Others say it simply makes post-op X-rays look better.

Wanted: An Abdominal Robot For Same-Day Surgery

Here's an update on the quest for smaller, less expensive robots tailored to outpatient facilities.

The Economics of Robot-assisted Spine Surgery

The massive upfront cost is offset by fewer revision surgeries, lower infection rates, reduced lengths of stay and shorter OR times.