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August 2017

Who Is Responsible for the Safe Introduction of New Surgical Technology?An Important Legal Precedent From the da Vinci Surgical System Trials

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2The JAMA Network, American Medical Association, Chicago, Illinois
  • 3Department of Surgery, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor
  • 4Surgical Innovation Editor, JAMA Surgery
JAMA Surg. 2017;152(8):717-718. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.0841

The question of who bears legal responsibility for ensuring the safe introduction of new technology (eg, robotic surgery) is receiving intense scrutiny in the US legal system. On February 9, 2017, the Washington State Supreme Court, in a reversal of a lower court ruling, issued a decision confirming that device manufacturers are indeed liable for ensuring that their product is safely adopted by its users.1 This Viewpoint will briefly review this landmark legal case and discuss its important implications for hospitals, surgical leadership, and individual surgeons.

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