Testimony in Opposition to H.1182, Resolve Providing For an Investigation and Study by A Special Commission Relative to Robotic Surgery before the Joint Committee on Public Health

The Massachusetts Medical Society wishes to be recorded in strong opposition to H.1182, A Resolve Providing for an Investigation and Study by a Special Commission Relative to Robotic Surgery. 

H.1182 would create a special commission to examine robotic surgery and develop best practices and principles, create certification for new application of robotic surgery, and promulgate guidelines for surgeon training and experience. The Medical Society formally adopted policy explicitly opposing this practice.

Established standards of care and best practices in any facet of medicine are important to maintaining high quality care and promoting patient safety. Government commissions are not the proper venue to establish standards of care or best practices. First, a committee comprised of legislators, patients, and professional society representatives does not have the expertise for such an undertaking- especially given the subspecialized, highly-technical nature of the practice. Second, the wonders of medical advancement prohibit the creation of static standards of care as they cannot take into account new and evolving technologies, techniques, etc.  Third, the Board of Registration in Medicine and tort law already provide means by which to establish a legal standard of care. Fourth, surgeon training and determinations of requisite experience for any procedure are best left to medical education programs and to individual clinicians and their supervisors to provide sufficient flexibility to ensure that all surgeons are properly trained and experienced. 

Standards of care and best practices should be established by practitioners in the field, should change with advances in technology, and should be free from the political process- all to maximize quality of care and to provide the utmost patient protections. For these reasons, the MMS strongly opposes H.1182 and statutory codification of best practices and guidelines.

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