Patients undergoing medical treatments expect that their physicians will utilize tools that will assist in the treatment without causing undue harm or damage to their bodies. One of these tools, a power morcellator which is used for removing fibroids or assisting in hysterecomy surgery is being scrutizined by the US Government Accountability Office.
Research has shown that the risk of spreading uterine cancer by using a power morcellator is not the 1 in 1000 risk it was believed; it is closer to 1 in 350. This is a significant difference that has lawmakers and Chicago personal injury attorneys justifiably concerned. As such, lawmakers have asked the GAO to investigate the reasoning behind the FDA’s 20 year delay in issuing a warning to physicians and patients about the use of power morcellators in surgery.
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These devices were first approved by the FDA in 1993, however, concern for their use did not begin to grow until 2006. After investigation, the FDA concluded that morcellators were more dangerous than initially believed, but did nothing until 2014 when they finally issued a warning letter advising physicians to better inform their patients of the risk. At that time, only Ethicon, a division of Johnson and Johnson, issued a voluntary recall.
The danger of spreading uterine cancer and other cancers is considerable. The power morcellator has been shown to spread it to such an extent that patients being treated for Stage 1 cancer quickly found themselves facing Stage 4 terminal cancer. The failure of this device to function safely has led to approximately 20 lawsuits this year alone. It is estimated that there could be several hundred more in the not to distant future.
In addition to the spread of uterine cancer, Chicago personal injury attorneys have seen numerous cases where power morcellators have been implicated in the spread of endometrial stromal sarcoma, carcinoma, leiomyosarcoma, and endometrial adenocarcinoma.
There are more than a dozen manufacturers of power morcellators that are used in the United States. To date, only three, Ethicon, LiNA, and Blue Endo have been named as defendants in these suits.
Of the suits that have been filed, it appears LiNA may opt to settle rather future suits rather than undergo trial. This summer they settled with Scott Burkhart whose wife, Donna, died at age 53; less than one year after receiving treatment with a power morcellator. The case had been scheduled to go to trial in December.