Patient Story

Day 2, That evening I started to have a lot of pain. I waited to see if my pain pill would help but it only got worse. It got to the point where it was so bad I couldn't even move, it was a constant pain with no relief. It felt like I had been stabbed with a knife and it was just turning and turning. I was terrified and knew something was wrong. My husband called an ambulance and I was taken back to the hospital where I had my surgery. I was given a CT scan, no problems were found but I was admitted for pain.

 My heart was beating over 200 beats per minute like I was running a marathon while lying down. I was breathing fast and shallow because of pain. I had these symptoms for nine (9) days along with gaining 20lbs of


Teresa Hershey, Harm from a Medical Device

Your Name Teresa Hershey

Patient's Name/Relationship Myself

City/State Bermuda Dunes, CA

When did event occur (what year)? 2010

Where did event occur? Acute Care General Hospital

What type of medical harm did you experience or witness? Harm From a Medical Device or Implant

Please describe what happened. post surgical burn to bowel

What was the outcome of the medical harm issue? Serious or life-threatening injury

  My doctor and I discussed a hysterectomy after I was told I had precancerous cells in my cervix and possibly Endometriosis. I was given a choice between open traditional surgery and the DaVinci robotic surgery. I was not given a choice for regular laparoscopic surgery in fact I didn't even know this was an option at this time. I was told compared to open traditional there would be less pain, less scaring, and most importantly a faster recovery. Recovery time would be 7-10 days rather than 6-8 weeks. I was only told the pros, and not the cons. I was sold on the fact this was the obvious choice for surgery and because of my condition I had no time to waste to make a decision.

 I went home from my doctors visit with a brochure which I shared with my husband. Again nowhere on the brochure did it mention laparoscopic surgery as an option only open traditional. My husband and I went online to watch a few DaVinci hysterectomy surgeries on youtube and also watched a demonstration. I felt assured that the Da Vinci was safe. I scheduled the surgery after being approved by my insurance company and had to pay my full deductible. It was five thousand dollars but well worth it especially after all the female problems I'd been having.

 I had my DaVinci surgery in August 2010. Everything had gone well.  I was so happy and relieved how quick and easy it was and the next day I went home from the hospital. My family was happy that everything was okay and I was home.


fluid during this time. I had multiple tests done and many doctors but no one could find a problem. The uncertainty of my condition had my family, friends, as well as myself shocked and afraid. On that ninth day I was given a vaginal ultrasound where they finally saw something. I was taken back to surgery that day and was told the DaVinci would be used again for exploratory surgery and would go through the same holes as before. I was afraid to go back to surgery but relieved they had finally found a problem and we would soon have an answer. 


When I woke up from surgery I was in ICU. I was told my bowel had been perforated during my DaVinci surgery, my doctor was so upset, she said this has never happened to her before. I now have a vertical scar from my ribs to my pubic area which defeated the purpose of the Da Vinci surgery in the first place. It was not safer, there was not less pain and now there was not less scarring. I was relieved though, that they had finally found and fixed the problem. I do have a team of doctors because of infection and I am still very sick. I recovered for another nine days until there was another complication the night before I was supposed to go home.


I woke up that night wet and woke my husband who slept by my side. I thought I had wet myself and asked him to help me to the bathroom, while rolling out of bed (with my husband's help) I saw a drop of fecal matter fall to the floor. I immediately started crying telling my husband what I saw. He calmed me until we were able to get to the bathroom where we could both see better. Once there we could see it on my gown, and my dressing. We realized it was coming out one of my incisions & not my bottom. At this point I know I'm in trouble. I know there is a chance that I might not live through this. That whole night my husband and I sat there scared knowing I would go back to surgery again and wondering if this would be our last night together. 


When I woke up from surgery this time I had a breathing tube down my throat and my hands were tied down. I could not talk but my parents told me I had been in critical condition for the last 3 days. My family did not know if I would live or die. My husband had to tell my teenage children that I might not make it. My children had to comfort their Dad and tell him it would be okay even though they were so scared themselves. My family and friends were called to say goodbye. Nobody could understand what had happened. It was supposed to a be quick and easy surgery, now I'm hanging on for my life.


My doctor said my insides were so bad he could not tell one thing from another. Again I was very sick with infection and had a team of doctors. I lost my hair from all the infection, stress, surgeries and medication. I was left open from the surgery with a wound vac that would help heal my infected tissue. I went back to surgery another five times, each time being cleaned out and then closed up a little at a time. I had a lot of physical therapy to get me walking again. Breathing treatments for my lungs. I went months in the hospital mostly without food or drink. I had gotten a port done for nutrition and an ileostomy that I would keep for six months while my intestines healed. Then I would come back in for another surgery to have the ileostomy reversed. While recovering I had a home nurse, I had a hospital bed, and I was still very sick. 


I came in for my reversal March 2011. My doctor had to remove a few sections of my intestines, repaired a hernia, some lesions and reversed the illeostomy but a section was still not opening up and gas was not getting through so after weeks of X-rays and CT scans I went back for my 10th surgery. Another section of my intestines had to be removed. I woke up from that surgery in so much pain I passed out. It was successful though and a few weeks later I was released from the hospital. A month later my port was taken out. I have been back in the hospital since for a high grade bowel obstruction in my intestines. One doctor told me I will need surgery in the future because I have multiple obstructions caused by scarring. Another doctor said it would do more damage than good. All have said no surgeon would want to touch me in the future because of my injuries and what I have been through. 


My husband and I had a feeling the DaVinci was involved with my injury. This was supposed to be a "routine surgery". How could so much have gone wrong? Everything we watched and read said that this robotic surgery was safe, that it did millions of safety checks, that it would prevent surgeon error. There were no warnings! How did they not find the injury for nine days, while I laid there suffering? It boggled our minds! 


A few years later we learned about the thermal burns happening outside of the surgical field. My heart sank as I realized this had happened to me. It all made sense. I was hurt even further when I found out Intuitive Surgical maker of DaVinci knew all along and chose to hide these defects from their customers & the medical community. They allowed patients to be harmed for years until they could come up with a replacement part putting profit ahead of patient safety.  


We have been fighting to create awareness ever since.  I have a horrific story, but there are many others. I want you to know the risks involved and do your research so you can make an informed choice. I didn't have any warnings at the time of my surgery so I want you take advantage of the information that is available now. Not many are talking about this so we have to do our part. Please feel free to contact me with any questions, or if you would like to share you or your family's story. 

To see Teresa's blog, click here.