Killer robots?

Technical difficulties during robotic surgery can be fatal for patients

Technical difficulties during robotic surgery, which has been widely touted as minimally invasive and effective in reducing risk of infection and recovery times, can have fatal consequences, a study finds.

Researchers combed through reports submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by hospitals, patients and device manufacturers, concluding that, out of a total of 1.7 million robotic procedures nationwide, there were 144 deaths, 1,391 injuries and 8,061 device malfunctions between January 2000 and December 2013, according to BBC News. Difficulties included broken instruments falling into patients' bodies, electrical sparks burning tissue and system errors making surgery take longer than planned.

The authors cautioned that the EPA's reports provided little information about the cause of death in most instances, meaning they could be related to risks inherent in all surgeries.