The Ethics of Medical Devices: The Rise of the da Vinci Robot and a New Model for Its Ethical Use
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The da Vinci® robot is a new surgical system for minimally invasive surgical procedures created by the private company Intuitive Surgical. Since its first appearance on the medical device market in 1999, the da Vinci robot has grown significantly in popularity and two newer versions of the operating platform have been developed. Despite the rapidly increasing use of the da Vinci, several medical studies completed in the past few years question the worth of its widespread utilization as well as the marketing techniques involved and the training system in place. A review of multiple studies illustrated that in many respects the robotic surgical platform does not provide additional benefits for the patient compared to laparoscopy, yet it costs significantly more. There do seem to be certain merits to this technology, but only in the correct circumstances. This paper uses four principles of biomedical ethics (beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice) to evaluate when use of the da Vinci robot is ethical and when it would not be. Furthermore, an ethical model for surgical training and dissemination of this robotic surgical technology is proposed.
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