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Faith Hall

Malcolm Campbell
UWRT 1103
April 10th, 2012
Out with the old, in with the new: Robotics changing medicine
Are robots really advancing medicine or is it actually making it worse? In spite of the

Commented [LJ1]: Should be the same font as the rest of

the paper
Commented [LJ2]: Are robots really advancing medicine or
are they making it worse? Subject/verb agreement

advancement movement, the upcoming debate centering on this question continues. We are
surrounded by evidence of differences between robotics now in medical field. Even though it has

Commented [LJ3]: In the medical field

become fashionable to now see automated computers in origin, the temptation to seek an
explanation in terms of differences remains a powerful one (Working safely with robot workers).
On one end of the spectrum robotics have helped solve many human errors and have created an
extremely fast work environment. On the other hand, robotics have taken jobs from people, lost
the relationship with patients, and have caused a shift in curriculum for medical students.

Commented [LJ4]: Good intro to the debate

The advancement of computers and other technologies have opened up wide doors for the
medical field. With the advances of the 21st century, surgical equipment are now robotic machines

Commented [LJ5]: Surgical equipment now includes

robotic machines

controlled by a single doctor. Many are skeptical on if these procedures are dangerous or harmful

Commented [LJ6]: Can cut one of these words out (they

mean the same thing)

to the patients undergoing the surgery. However, in a specific study, they found that after

Commented [LJ7]: Specify who they is

sensorimotor training provided by robotic devises, a patient improved his sense of position. There
were no harms done nor did the robotic training have any errors (Colombo). Before the
advancement and development of the Davinci system (a robot that performs laparoscopic
procedures) the surgeons were having to perform only open surgeries creating many scars and

incisions for the patient. With this system alone it has changed surgery greatly. In the last 5 years
alone, the robotic platform has gained popularity in general surgery where patients have decreased

Commented [LJ8]: Introduce the quote before you bring it

in. In his article about ____, Kuzentsov says or
something like that

receiving open procedures while increasing in laparoscopic surgery (Working safely with robot
workers). Nowadays many devices make modern medicine more effective since medicine is
developing constantly, introduction of robots is very promising. Modern operating rooms are
equipped with up to date equipment, allowing doctors to make operations more accurately and
with less risk to the patient (Kuznetsov). The robotics increasing in the health care has provided

Commented [LJ9]: The healthcare system

opportunitys with faster treatment, smaller surgical incisions, and more accurate numbers.

Commented [LJ10]: Opportunities

However there are still researchers contradicting the positives of these advancements and who
believe it is a recipe for disaster.

Commented [LJ11]: Should be they are to agree with the

plural subject of advancements

For doctors, the robotics increasing in medicine have affected them greatly. From their
salary, the work that they are doing, to even the change in their curriculum. The robotic curricula

Commented [LJ12]: Combine these two sentences, the

second is a dependent clause

has been described as effective; however, they are mostly limited to specific areas of study such
as urology and gynecology training programs (Finnerty). Development of robotic curriculum is
only in the beginning stages, and it also remains unknown whether general surgery residents are
acquitting robotic skills through their residency. This has caused questioning regarding the
safeness and usefulness of robotics in medicine as of right now. If the doctors are not receiving the
proper education to use these robots than are patients in harms way? The training programs are
beginning to develop therefore in the next couple of years there should be better education
provided for doctors on proper use for the robotics. It takes vigorous training to be able to control
the devices that are now being used in the laparoscopic surgery which is why it is important for
doctors to have the proper education on the equipment. Since this market is still growing and

Commented [LJ13]: Good way to bring up how the new

development is causing questions and then provide an
example question

constantly changing, creating a curriculum to teach the doctors in residency right now is very
What do the doctors have to say?
The change of relationships between the patients and doctors have become more noticed

Commented [LJ14]: Noticeable

now that computerized instruments are in most offices and hospitals. Many more doctors have
begun re-evaluating the field that they are entering into and whether or not it is something that they
are wanting to do. Some doctors agree that the advancement of robotics have reshaped and helped

Commented [LJ15]: Advancement of robotics has


the medical field while others explain how it has ruined it. An article provided from an online
medical blog gives multiple responses from doctors themselves on their thoughts regarding
robotics in medicine. These responses demonstrates the split between these two sides. Barry
Kisloff, M.D from Pittsburg, Pa. wrote his reasoning on how computers and robotics are beneficial
to the system.
The increasing use of computer-based medicine (CBM) is rarely driven by providers. A
considerable impetus is political diktat, thanks to bountiful donations from rich Silicon
Valley enterprises to political campaigns. The introduction of CBM on a broad scale may
well result in better clinical outcomes, but only at a significant financial cost. Robots will
broaden the differential-diagnoses list available to clinicians and thus, given the current
and seemingly uncontrollable medical-malpractice environment, compel further diagnostic
testing, with the concomitant costs and risks of false positives. False or misinterpreted lab
testing will then spawn more and often dangerous, not to mention costly, diagnostic
Although automation can often guide smarter clinical decisions and turn dollars more
efficiently it still doesnt provide a patient with the comfort and care that a human would be able

Commented [LJ16]: Great intro to a quote

to give. Robots, however, may be the only ones willing to deliver care in the future because
doctors have begun opting out. In a 2012 study, nearly half of 5000 surveyed physicians said they
hoped to be out of medicine within five years; nine out of 10 said they would not recommend
entering the profession (New York Times). Dr. Watson, a M.D from Austin Texas, responded to
the topic of robotics and how they are not as beneficial as people have believed them so to be.
I see The Atlantic has taken its monthly trip into medical cuckoo-land. Yes, of course,
computers can do anything, including hit home runs and sink basketball shots, and can do
these things better than people can do them. However, the idea is a long way from reality.
When I was a young man in my fellowship 35 years ago, one of the other fellows in the
program decided to drop out-he felt that computers would soon make doctors redundant.
So this idea has been around awhile. The problem is not only that programming computers
to practice medicine is very difficult; it is also that doctors spend little time just pondering
diagnostic possibilities. Most of their time is spent on data entry and patient assessment.
People who believe that a computer will not miss diagnoses fail to understand how much
serendipity is involved in hitting upon the right diagnosis in the first place.
Medicine is no longer a profession but a commodity where its central purpose is not
improving the health of patients but maintaining the health of the system says Watson. Now with
the technology and robotics, doctors and patients often do not develop meaningful, trusting
relationships but more of conduct transactions.
For growing countries the robotic future holds many concerns and wonders. Catherine
Mohr in her Ted talk, explains how important robotics have become for the medical field and how
they have grown over the past hundreds of years. She focuses on how surgeons now have the
opportunity to perform whatever they desire to and the way that robotics have opened that door

Commented [LJ17]: Good quote analysis

for them. Being a surgeon herself she says, For surgeons, it is almost like being an artist where
the robotics have now become our paint brushes. The Davinci robot, founded in 1999, has been
developed to put wrists on the instruments that go inside a human body. She explains the way
that doctors use this robot to go inside the human body laparoscopically. With these advances, this
device has been able to go into tumors that would have ultimately been impossible to do with an
open surgery. Now doctors are able to remove a prostate gland with an incision that is less than an
inch wide. The Davinci robot has now developed into an instrument that has a camera, a traction,
and sewing device all in one. She says, Yes there are limitations, yes there are challenges, but the
robotics have given us the capabilities to write the script of the next revolution in surgery. As we
take these capabilities we get to go to the next places and decide what our new surgeries are going
to be. There are cancers that cannot be seen, that are below the surface without the robotics now
in surgery there would not have been any way to remove those types of tumors. With the Davinci
robot they are able to light up an unnoticeable tumor from a kidney, a liver, a lung, etc. With the

Commented [LJ18]: There are certain types of tumors that

cannot be seen, as they are below the surface, and without
the robots used to day, there would be no way to see or
remove these tumors.

flexible microscopic probes of the Davinci robot, we can reach it all and we can see it all, we can
heal the disease, and we can leave the patient whole and intact and functional afterwards. These
robotics have been able to hold the key for new discoveries, new cures, and new medicines.
In conclusion
There is a huge market for robotics in society, which is why this is an important factor to
consider. What is going to a hospital going to be like 10 years from now? Or what new surgeries

Commented [LJ19]: Cut out or

will be discovered? Among our society it is logistical to have robotic devices, they cannot quit,

Commented [LJ20]: Devices; they (use semicolon)

forget, or get pregnant. They are cost efficient and have minimal errors which is why there is a
problem with employment and unemployment and now with advances in the medical field there

Commented [LJ21]: Unemployment is the problem, not


are many doctors losing jobs as well as cuts in salaries. Whether experts lean toward the more

Commented [LJ22]: As well as taking cuts in their salaries

pessimistic view of new technology or the most optimistic one, many agree that the uncertainty is
very vast. Not even the people who spend their days making and studying new technology say they
understand the societal effects of the new digital era. This is why there is such controversy over if
robotics in the medical system benefit more than they hurt. There is no way to tell what the right
answer is but that is not going to stop robotics from advancing more and more each year. The
developments will continue to shock the medical field but also keep changing it at the same time.
Only time will tell what these advancements will do to this field and what benefits and harm it has
for the patients as well for the doctors.

Commented [LJ23]: They have (subject is advancements)

Works Cited
Cain Miller, Claire. Smarter Robots Move Deeper into Workplace. (cover story). New York
Times. 16 Dec. 2014+. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11. 2016
Columbo, R. Improving Proprioceptive Deficits After Stroke Through Robot-Assisted Training
of the Upper Limb: A pilot Case Report Study. Neurocase (Psychology Press) 22.2
(2016): 191-200. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.
Finnerty, Brendan. General Surgery Training and Robotics: Are Residents Improving Their
Skills? Surgical Endoscopy 30.2 (2016): 567-573. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11
Feb. 2016
Kuznetsov, D.N and V.I. Syryamkin. Robotics in Medicine. AIP Conference Proceedings
1688.1 (2015): 1-4. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2016
Murashov, Vladimir, Frank Hearl, and John Howard. Working Safely With Robot Workers:
Recommendatons For The New Workplace. Journal of Occupational and Environmental
Hygiene 13.3 (2016): D61-D71. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2016
Tufekci, Zeynep. The Machines are Coming. New York Times 19 Apr. 201: 4. Academic Search
Complete. Web. 11 Feb. 2016.