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Last to nce Cha vote -see Local News & Culture. Marina del Rey August 1, 2013 e2 pag Westchester Free S a n ta M o n i c a P l aya d e l R e y P l aya V i s t a M a r V i s ta Del Rey VenicE Lack of training at root of robotic surgery mishaps, says local surgeon Photo courtesy of Marina Del Rey Hospital By Gary Walker The use of robots in the operating suite is no longer the stuff of science fiction or films. Robotic technology has been employed for more than a decade and hospitals have engaged in intense public relations campaigns, advertising its accuracy and other advantages to traditional surgery to promote the innovative surgical machinery. But recent headlines have forced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take a look at a company that manufactures equipment for robot-assisted surgery and the use of robotics as a surgical tool in general. The federal agency has received over 200 reports of incidents since 2007. These include cuts, burns and infections that have occurred during robot-assisted surgery. In investigating these claims, much of the government’s focus has been on the equipment used in the operations. But a local doctor who has been performing surgeries using robotic technology for a decade strongly believes that a distinct lack of training on the part of surgeons using the machines is the greater concern and that this dearth of experience is what can lead to the aforementioned complications, some often crippling or life-altering. Dr. S. Adam Ramin is a urologic surgeon at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica and one of the first surgeons in the United States to perform robot-assisted surgery. He believes with this operating technology, it largely depends on the skill and experience of the carpenter and not as much on the tools. “In my experiences, almost all problems associated with robotic surgery are due to a lack of surgical training with the robot,” Ramin told The Argonaut. “We see major complications with surgeons who are not properly trained to use this technology.” Dr. Daniel Marcus, a general surgeon at Marina Del Rey Hospital near Marina del Rey is in complete agreement with Ramin. Dr. Daniel Marcus of Marina Del Rey Hospital with the da Vinci Surgical System. “The issue is not so much the technology but the person on the other end of the technology,” added Marcus. “There has not been one case where the robot has been implicated in (surgical complications).” On Sept. 8, 2008 in Silverdale, Wash., a routine prostatectomy for 67-year-old Fred Taylor went horribly wrong during a robot-assisted operation that left him with a colostomy bag and he was rendered incontinent. Taylor passed away last year but the New York Times reported in March that his wife Jossete decided to bring a legal action against Intuitive Surgical Inc., a Sunnyvale, Calif. company that specializes in robotic surgical systems. A prostatectomy is the partial or complete removal of the prostate gland. In the Taylor case, the surgeon, Dr. Scott Bildsten, reportedly had never used the robotic equipment without supervision. Nearly 400,000 robotic-assisted surgeries were performed last year, according to the California-based company, which manufactures da Vinci surgical robots. The machines cost approximately $1.5 million. As of 2009, Intuitive had installed 1,242 systems worldwide. In an inspection report sent May 30 obtained by (Continued on page 4) •This Week• Page 12 Santa Monica resident Livi Yiu will perform a mix of originals and covers on her ukulele Saturday, Aug. 3 at Witzend in Venice. Talk of elimination of Westchester-Playa council ‘special interest’ seats intensifies By Gary Walker A conversation that began in May about what some members of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa call “special interest seats” and what to do with them has accelerated in recent weeks due to a new dynamic that has come into play. Neighborhood council Vice President Mark Redick broached the subject May 16 of eliminating certain board positions that some on the council and some of their constituents believe exist for the sole purpose of catering to a specific entity or organization. “To some people, (having special interest seats) looks exclusionary, not inclusionary,” he said. Redick and board member Craig Eggers had anticipated having discussions about what to do with these seats prior to the 2014 neighborhood council elections, which were set to occur next summer. Those elections have now been moved to the spring, shortening the time period to decide whether or not the special interest seats should remain in place before the elections, Redick says. “This now increases the sense of urgency,” Redick said. Those who support an overhaul of the number of seats on the local council say that next year will be too late to talk about the possible changes on the board and are asking to begin deliberations on this controversial matter soon. The Westchester-Playa council has three seats for business directors, one income property (Continued on page 6)


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