Morcellator Injury Lawsuits
It is not unusual for women to require surgery to remove uterine cysts, fibroids, adenomas, or even their uterus. These procedures used to be performed using power morcellators; however, the makers of these devices have been the target of a litany of lawsuits over the past few years due to issues with the surgical tool’s safety. An article was released just last year that the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson would start settling lawsuits that were filed by women against their defective medical tool. As of March of last year, there were over 100 cases pending in court, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Power Morcellators: Initially Used for Safety Purposes
As medical technology advanced, one of the pushes was for minimally invasive surgery. Instead of using a large incision, the surgery would be performed through multiple incisions that often were smaller than 1cm in size. A camera would be used to help guide the surgical procedure while the other incisions were used for tools with long arms that would actually complete the operation. Unfortunately, it is difficult to remove items like fibroids, let alone a uterus, through these small incisions. Therefore, the power morcellator would be used to break apart the tissue for easy removal. This allowed operations involving solid organ removal to be performed in a minimally invasive fashion.
Problems Arise with Power Morcellators
As the tool became more widely used, women started to notice that they were developing cancer after procedures involving a power morcellator. The issue with using this equipment to bust up soft tissue is that sometimes procedures that involved removing benign tissue, such as fibroids and adenomas, actually turned out to be cancerous when placed under the microscope. If this tissue was broken up using a power morcellator, the tissue was actually sent elsewhere in the abdomen where it would seed cancerous growth. Therefore, women with undiagnosed cancer who underwent a surgical procedure using this tool could have the cancerous tissue spread elsewhere in their body. This leads to serious medical concerns and a whole host of complications.
A Massive Industry Response from the Medical Community
It shouldn’t be surprising that the medical community and biotechnology industry has completely turned away from the power morcellator. A few of the responses are below:
- The FDA has issued its harshest warning for surgeries using power morcellators by requiring a black box label to be placed on the power morcellator.
- Aetna has stopped covering surgeries involving morcellation.
- Johnson & Johnsons has been forced to recall all of its power morcellators.
- A study from Columbia University has found that hysterectomies using power morcellators has fallen from 14% to 3% over the past few years
- There have been multiple lawsuits filed against companies furnishing power morcellators. Many of these have been settled in favor of the patient.
Clearly, the medical community has had to completely rethink their use of what was once a common surgical tool. Many women have been injured by this defective medical product and the true gravity of the impact remains to be seen.
Sacramento Products Liability Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento defective medical device attorney. If you’ve been seriously injured or lost a loved one due to the negligence of someone else, please call me at (916) 921-6400 for free and friendly advice. Or, phone me toll-free at (800) 404-5400.
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