New Surgical Robot Operates with Fewer Mistakes than Surgeons

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New Surgical Robot Operates with Fewer Mistakes than Surgeons

The Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) has it all; a catchy backstory, a legitimate purpose, and some impressive real-world results. The brainchild of Dr. Peter Kim, STAR has been in development for years. Recently, a team of researchers led by Kim oversaw the robot perform successful open-bowel surgery on pigs. None of the patients suffered any complications and all remained in excellent health following the procedures.

The makings of a STAR

Newsweek reported, “The motivation behind STAR began years ago, on top of a skiing hill in Canada. Back then, Kim was a pediatric reconstructive surgeon, an expert in performing airway reconstructive surgeries on tiny babies. While skiing with his son one winter, he received a call about a baby across the country needing immediate surgery. Rushing down the hill, he had a realization: ‘I didn’t get down safely,’ he says, ‘it wasn’t good for me, and it wasn’t good for the patient.’”

Following the incident, Kim began thinking of a way to transfer his knowledge to a platform that was accessible anytime, anywhere. In this way, work began on what would ultimately be a complex but extremely effective robot. STAR is equipped with an incredible visual system that allows the robot to see subtle differences in soft tissue and locate objects in three dimensions. In addition, it can see temperature and pulse to help distinguish between tissue types.

Old concept, new tricks

Robot-assisted surgeries have been around for years; STAR represents the next phase of computer-controlled surgery. Kim told Newsweek, “We’re the first group to

[develop autonomous robotic surgery] with soft-tissue surgery, and when compared to standard practice, it’s better. The idea is not to replace surgeons; it will make surgeons better and make the procedures safer.”

The news about the success of the STAR system couldn’t come at a better time. A new study, recently published in the BMJ, has found that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Dr. Martin Makary, who led the research team, told the Washington Post, “It boils down to people dying from the care that they receive rather than the disease for which they are seeking care.”

STAR is designed to reduce the rate of errors during surgery, but it will be quite some time before the system is widely available. In the meantime, victims of medical errors suffer the effects of mistakes every day. Some errors have mild effects like post-operative infections, but more grievous mistakes can be fatal.

If your loved one has been the victim of a medical error, you may be entitled to compensation for medical care or lost wages. The experienced Tennessee medical malpractice attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. Call 615.246.5549 or contact us today for a free consultation at one of our offices in Nashville, Gallatin or Knoxville.