Douglas Murphy, Ankit Patel, and Vivian Wang Featured in U.S. News & World Report

December 2019

Cardiothoracic surgeon Douglas A. Murphy, MD, general and GI surgeon Ankit Patel, MD, and former resident Vivian Wang, MD, were featured as positive examples of structured robotic surgery training in a recent U.S. News & World Report story on the lack of standardized training curriculum or unified credentialing for robotic surgery in the U.S.

As the article reports, robotic credentialing is done separately by hospital, resulting in standards that vary wildly across the country. Consequently, robotic surgery has become a highly scrutinized endeavor with some recent controversies, such as the FDA-issued safety warning against the use of robotic devices in mastectomies.

Dr. Murphy asserts that most of the negative incidents associated with robotic surgery are the result of poor training. The article observes that he trains mid-career cardiac surgeons and surgical teams at Emory St. Joseph's Hospital and other hospitals in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, and believes that proper robotic training requires time, patience, and humility.

"You've got to be able to work in a team, you have to forget about hierarchies, and arrogance is a no-go," he says, as he describes the process of surgeons learning to work at a console 10-feet away from the surgical field rather than standing at the operating table, and having to accept dependance on an assistant at the patient's bedside.

Dr. Patel is cited for helping build comprehensive robotic training guidelines for the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), and for building a robotic curriculum at Emory that is modeled after SAGES' endoscopic and laparoscopic training that is required for board-certification in the various surgical disciplines.

"Robotics is the future of surgery," he says. "That's why we're working toward a unified, standardized training platform."

Dr. Wang, now a fellow in minimally invasive surgery with a focus on robotics at Ohio State University, engaged in Emory's robotic training as a resident, found it to be thorough, and reports that she participated in 80 robotic cases and operated in approximately 50. She plans to specialize in bariatric surgery, and says, "I am ready."