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How safe are Medical Robots? at Aug 02, 2010 11:35

They’re path-breakers in medical technology no doubt, but how safe are robots that are used in the field of medicine? Truth be told, we’re advancing faster than we ever dreamed we would, and even though medical robots are being touted as the next big wave in medicine, there are still some areas where they leave much to be desired – like safety. Today, robots (or automated machines) are being used increasingly in not just in the operating room, but also to perform routine diagnoses. They are extremely advantageous in surgical specialties where accuracy and precision are important and also facilitate surgeries where there is less pain and faster recovery.

Man has been using machines to guide and augment the practice of medicine for some time now, but the problem today is that machines are no longer the submissive components they once were, waiting to be guided by the surgeon and used exactly as commanded. They’re more sophisticated, and surgeons have to be trained to use them correctly if they want error and complication-free operations. The safety aspect of using medical robots depends entirely on the person using them to perform the surgeries, and if they’re not adept at programming the machine and using its features accurately and according to the patients’ needs, then there is a high probability of something going wrong.

In the field of diagnosis too, robots hold great promise because they can easily assimilate tons of information and analyze patterns to find symptoms of disease and chronic conditions. Unlike human beings, they can work for hours together without feeling fatigue, irritation or stress. But then, they lack a few qualities that are inherent in most human doctors – warmth, sensitivity, intuition and ethical responsibility.

For robots to find a place of value in the field of medicine and cement it firmly without any hint of negativity:

  • Doctors and surgeons who use them regularly must be thoroughly trained to wield them safely and effectively.

  • They should know both the limitations and advantages of robots and use them accordingly and as per the needs of the patient.

  • The use of the machines should not serve to increase medical costs for the patient.

  • Doctors should know when and how much to use them and be able to judge how effective their decision-making skills are instead of relying on them blindly to make the right decision for the patient.

The field of medical robotics is still nascent, and in time, further advances will definitely pave the way for more revolutionary treatments and discoveries in medical science. But even with the most sophisticated advancement, caution must be exercised and safety focused on if medical robots are to be accepted without the hint of a doubt.

This article is contributed by Susan White, who regularly writes on the subject of Online Radiology Technician Schools. She invites your questions, comments at her email address:


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