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Clinical Guarantee for Robotic Prostatectomies

St. Luke's Hospital Offers First-of-its-Kind Clinical Guarantee

Robotic Prostatectomies Using da Vinci Surgical System - Push “Pay-for-Performance” to Next Level

Bethlehem, PA (9/23/08) – St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem, PA will offer a first-of-its-kind clinical guarantee on robotic prostatectomies using the da Vinci Surgical System.

St. Luke's and its urologic surgeons have developed and will adhere to a rigorous set of clinical guidelines for every surgery, for every patient. If St. Luke's and its urologic surgeons do not follow these guidelines every time, or if a patient develops specific complications directly related to the robotic prostatectomy within thirty (30) days of surgery, the patient and their insurance company will not be billed for services rendered by St. Luke's or its urologic surgeons…GUARANTEED. The clinical guidelines were designed by Eric Mayer, MD, St. Luke's chief of Minimally Invasive Urologic Surgery and Joseph Lennert, MD, Chief of Urology. Participating surgeons also include Jarrod Rosenthal, MD and Frank Tamarkin, MD.

Urologic surgeons at St. Luke's Hospital, including Drs. Mayer, Lennert, Rosenthal and Tamarkin have been performing minimally invasive robotic-assisted surgery since 2003, distinguishing St. Luke's as the first hospital in Pennsylvania to treat prostate cancer using the da Vinci Surgical System. Their experience, skill and success with the da Vinci prostate surgery procedure have enabled them to achieve excellent outcomes for hundreds of patients throughout the Lehigh Valley service area. St Luke's physicians have more experience than any other institution in the area and were trained in this procedure by its inventor.

“St. Luke's administration challenged us to develop a program that took “pay for performance” to the next level, exceeding the standards for quality care that we are required to adhere to today. The gold standard treatment option for men with early-stage, organ-confined cancer is surgical removal of the prostate using nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy,” says Dr. Mayer. “Prostatectomy is also the most widely used treatment for prostate cancer today in the US, and in fact, 80 – 85 percent of all robotic surgeries are prostatectomies.”

“We believe that prostate surgery could be approached in a manner that combined our clinical expertise, our advanced technology and our interest in adhering to clinical protocols in such a way as to offer an actual guarantee for services rendered,” says Dr. Mayer. “The results for patients of an experienced surgeon using this technology are less blood loss, a quicker recovery time and fewer side effects, such as urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction – important considerations for patients when choosing a treatment option.”

In assessing how they perform robotic prostatectomies, St. Luke's urologists identified a number of essential steps. The urologists devised procedures to ensure the steps would always be followed, regardless of which surgeon provided care. From screening a patient through surgery and a post- operative regimen of care, St. Luke's Robotic Prostatectomy Care Plan ensures every patient gets the recommended treatment.

Robotic-assisted surgery is a computer-enhanced, minimally invasive surgical technique that allows surgeons to operate while seated at a console system, viewing a magnified 3-D image of the surgical field. The system's advanced technology translates the surgeon's hand movements into precise, real-time movements of the surgical instruments inside the body, allowing the surgeon the benefits of better vision and maneuverability, and very refined precision in the dissection of delicate tissue. Because the robotic prostatectomy is a minimally invasive procedure allowing more surgical precision in complex operations, it offers patients these potential advantages over conventional “open” surgery:

  • Shorter hospital stay - usually 24 to 48 hours
  • Less post-operative pain - only about four to five external incisions measuring less than one-third of an inch each are required
  • Quicker recovery - most patients return to work or resume full activity in two to three weeks
  • Reduced blood loss - the 3-D, 15x magnification of the surgical field improves the surgeon's ability to control small blood vessels
  • Improved outcome — the technology makes it easier for surgeons to delicately handle tissue and preserve vital nerves and blood vessels

Experienced robotic surgeons are able to enter into the patient through a few small "keyhole" entrances and handle the surgery with some very tiny and precise instruments that allow the doctor to manipulate tissue with great precision and remove the patient's prostate gland without doing any harm to surrounding tissue. After the robotic prostatectomy, the patient is left with only a few small marks on the abdomen - and none of the scars normally associated with prostate cancer treatment and surgery.


About St. Luke's

With more than 44,000 annual admissions, St. Luke's Hospital & Health Network is an integrated network of four non-profit hospitals, 1,200 physicians, the Visiting Nurse Association of St. Luke's and many related organizations and facilities, St. Luke's provides care in eight counties in Eastern Pennsylvania. The Network employs 6,000 + people and is supported by 1,000 volunteers.

In addition to 76 medical specialties, St. Luke's also offers many centers of excellence including a fully accredited Level 1 trauma center, a nationally recognized open heart surgery program, oncology, neuroscience, orthopaedics, high-risk pregnancy, the region's busiest obstetrical service, robotic surgery, vascular disease and radiology (St. Luke's has been designated a General Electric Healthcare Global Show Site). St. Luke's Hospital – Bethlehem Campus, the Network's flagship facility, has experienced growth in admissions for more than 25 consecutive years and has won 25 major national awards for clinical quality and excellence since 1997, including twice being named one of the nation's 100 Best Hospitals. Learn more about St. Luke's.