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As reported in the New York Times ... Surgeons are increasingly turning to high-tech robotic equipment to operate on patients with prostate cancer and other conditions but some medical authorities worry about inadequate training and lax standards among practitioners.

Doctors are opting for Intuitive Surgical's popular da Vinci Surgical System over conventional surgery, especially for removing the prostate gland, because it is less invasive and allows for greater precision. There were some 80,000 robotic prostatectomy procedures in the United States last year...

... The rate of failure for such surgeries is comparable to that of traditional surgeries but patients are more at risk if inexperienced surgeons use the robots ... Dr. Kevin Zorn, chief of urology at Weiss Memorial Hospital at the University of Chicago ... lead author of an article in the September issue of the Journal of Urology that proposed instituting training standards for surgeons using the equipment. Currently, there is no credentialing system to evaluate a surgeon's competency and surgeons cannot practice on simulators before taking on live patients. Zorn believes such machines ought to exist...

... As of mid-2009, there were 1,242 da Vinci Surgical Systems in place throughout the world, up from 286 in 2004 ... Prices range from $700,000 (425,635.41 pounds) to $2.25 million per system...

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