Surgery is a scary thing. Having robots or remote surgeons makes us nervous because it amplifies the unknowns. We are already very good at imagining bad what-if scenarios in these situations.
Likely if lag times become too great the machines will go into a safe mode until a better connection is restored, and yes there may be unlikely/unlucky scenarios where the patent dies from not being able to receive timely treatment/intervention because no qualified surgeon is close by. Of course thousands if not hundreds of thousands (millions?) already die from less than ideal surgeries at the hands of all too fallible doctors. All doctors are fallible, it is a spectrum of very competent (and yet still human) to incompetent.
Likely autonomous robotic surgery and remote surgery (and various hybrids of the two) are the wave of the future. A future many don’t want, but largely for naked fear of the unknown. Ideally quality of care will go up, access to care will go up, cost will go down (though not initially while we work out the kinks) .
Ideally automated (and largely infallible) robots will conduct the majority of surgeries and an elite squad of human surgeons will be on stand by to take over if the robot gets into trouble (though this will still be done remotely). Longer term the elite surgeons will be needed less and less until unneeded completely.
ER facilities will morph into prep-banks to stabilize patents just long enough for them to be worked on by the remotely guided or autonomous robots they keep nearby. Stabilization my include emergency cooling the body (induced hypothermia) so the patent can live long enough to receive remote care.
Patients with deadly communicable decreases will be able to receive surgery without major risks to hospital staff.
It will all be quite unnerving to witness, but what surgical intervention isn’t? If statistically lives are saved, then this is the way to go. Doing the right thing in medicine often involves overcoming a yuck factor.