Even with decades of education, training and practice under their belts, surgeons still make mistakes. Doctors can be on their feet for hours and a time slouched over a patient while performing a complicated procedure, a job that requires focus, precision and a certain situational awareness should the unexpected arise. Time and fatigue can take their toll.
Robots, however, don't have the same limitations. Robotic-assisted surgeries are increasingly common in the operating room, but autonomous machines conducting procedures without human intervention is beyond the capability of existing technology.
While robotic surgeons might be the future of medicine, critics of current robotic technology in the O.R. allege the medical devices industry has done "a poor job of monitoring the safety profile of certain new technologies," as Marty Makary of Johns Hopkins University Hospital told CNBC in April. Out of nearly 1.5 million robotic-assisted procedures since 2000, reports show 85 deaths and 245 injuries resulting from accidents tied to this technology.
While any number above zero may seem unacceptably high, the number of mistakes resulting from human surgeons averages out to about 4,000 per year, according to a study published in 2012 by Johns Hopkins University.