Home > Profile > The Art of Corruption: da Vinci and The U of Illinois Hospital

The Art of Corruption: da Vinci and The U of Illinois Hospital

February 26, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Over at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, they’re all waiting for the Ides of March.

That’s because, according to Charles Ornstein at Pro Publica, “The president of the University of Illinois system asked his vice president for research to investigate the matter and report back to him by March 15” to see if certain policies had been violated.

Of course, “The Matter” has already been investigated and all the president of the U of I has to do is read some blog posts by Paul Levy, who, Ornstein writes, runs a blog called Not Running a Hospital,  and “began writing a series of posts about the ad. The first, called Time to Fire Somebody, ran on Jan. 22. ‘The University has allowed its reputation to be used in a nationally distributed advertisement produced and owned by a private party, in benefit to that party’s commercial objectives. This is not consistent with ‘exercising custodial responsibility for University property and resources,’’ it said.

The ad is for for a robotic surgical system called “da Vinci,” which, depending on whether you listen to patient safety advocates or sales reps and the doctors on their pad, is either a dangerous and expensive piece of crap or a state of the art high-tech instrument used to perform “minimally invasive” surgical procedures.

The matter is that the ad, which ran in the New York Times Sunday magazine recently, “prominently featured a dozen members of the surgery team at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System,” was bought and paid for by the da Vinci company — as were, apparently, the Docs.

This courtesy Trish Torrey, About.com Patient Empowerment:  Don’t “fall” for the idea of the use of the robot.  Studies show it probably doesn’t improve anything for you over that minimally invasive approach.  (See reports from the Wall Street JournalNPR and USA Today.)

  1. Kathy Day RN
    February 27, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I got sold the Davinci for my hysterectomy. While I have no complaints about my outcome, I realize that I am very lucky. Also since my surgery I have read about the huge and aggressive sales pitch that Davinci makers throw. I also have read the studies that prove that standard laporaoscopic hysterectomy is every bit as safe as this creepy little robot surgery! I saw this machine up close and personal…it was my last memory before anesthesia. It is obscene how many television advertisements I see now to sell surgery done by this machine. That is because it costs more and puts more money in more pockets, not because it is better than older methods of laporascopic surgery. Putting this technology in the hands of dangerous and untrained physicians, or physicians with known high complication rates is asking for trouble. As with any tool….it is the handler who makes the difference, not the machine.

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