Robots are a norm in surgery. What happens when AI enters the OR?


Since the Food and Drug Administration first approved robotic-assisted minimally invasive surgical procedures in 2000, the use of such technologies continues to expand across surgical specialty areas. Yet as technological innovations emerge, so do concerns regarding ethical and clinical standards.

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The August issue of AMA Journal of Ethics® (@JournalofEthics) features numerous perspectives on robotic surgery, focusing on conversations regarding informed consent and communication, surgical training and education, and conflict-of-interest mitigation.

The August issue of AMA Journal of Ethics includes the following articles:

  1. How Should Surgeons Consider Emerging Innovations in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics?” 

    1. This article considers which risks artificial intelligence-facilitated surgical robotics pose for safety, confidentiality, informed consent and surgical training. 
  2. Is Robotic-Assisted Surgery Better?” 

    1. Several factors can persuade both surgeons and patients to choose robotic surgery over open surgery or conventional laparoscopy.
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  3. How Should Risk Be Communicated to Patients When Developing Resident Surgeon Robotic Skills?” 

    1. This article suggests strategies for how to disclose the nature and scope of resident surgeon involvement in managing intraoperative care.
  4. AMA Code of Medical Ethics’ Opinions Related to Robotic Surgery” 

    1. More frequent use of robotic-assisted surgeries means we need to ask more questions about care quality and equity, informed consent and conflicts of interest.

In the journal’s August “Ethics Talk” podcast, expert Chad M. Teven, MD, discusses current surgical applications of AI and models how to critically engage with AI surgical research and scholarship. The August issue also features three author-interview podcasts. Listen to previous episodes of the podcast, “Ethics Talk,” or subscribe in iTunes or other services.

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Submissions for the 2023 Conley Contests are being accepted through fall. U.S. MD and DO students, resident physicians or fellows in programs accredited by the ACGME or AOA are eligible to submit entries. The winning prize for the best essay and artwork, respectively, is $5,000.

Learn more about the Ethics Essay Contest and the Art of Medicine Contest.

Upcoming issues of the journal will focus on palliative psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry. Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.