Power Morcellator Lawsuits
A recent article in USA Today sums up why there are so many morcellator lawsuits. “When a hysterectomy can be a death sentence” (Weintraub, 2014) explains the story of Amy Reed, a doctor, mother of six and cancer patient. Reed had chosen to undergo a hysterectomy to combat her bleeding fibroid tumors, which had become a serious problem. She agreed to the use of a morcellator during her procedure, as it would cut down on healing time and discomfort.
Though the doctor had undergone a complete check for cancer prior to her surgery, she was indeed suffering from one of the rarest forms of cancer known – Leiomyosarcoma. It is not a form that shows up on preoperative tests, unless especially looked for, and it led to a catastrophic result. The use of a laparoscopic procedure that relied on the morcellator, “Spread those cancerous cells throughout Reed’s abdomen, turning a dangerous but treatable disease into a terribly lethal one.”
This single story exposed the medical world to the realities of the situation, and it also triggered a wave of legal action from those who had suffered the same fate. Whether someone was having a myomectomy (removal of a fibroid) or a hysterectomy of some kind, and then developed LMS, it has now become a legal matter. The FDA warning of the risk of the spread of cancer when the devices are used also makes the physicians still using them doubly at risk for a lawsuit of some kind.
Additionally, several models of morcellator have been recalled since the FDA warnings, and so the continued use of several versions of them also represent a legal issue, as well.
In other words, there are many reasons that someone might be ready to file a power morcellator lawsuit.
The Statistics on Morcellator Lawsuits
It is important to understand that the FDA stated in April of 2014 that they felt the use of a morcellator to remove fibroids (whether individually or through a hysterectomy) represented a threat to every one in three hundred and fifty women. Their studies demonstrated that this high percentage of patients has undiagnosed LMS and that the spread of the disease would occur if morcellation was used during the procedure.
Interestingly enough, the FDA also considers the use of a power morcellator a threat to those with spleen or kidney cancers too. In fact, the FDA has questioned the use of power morcellators when they shred benign tissue and cells as well. This is because the tissue is released throughout the abdominal cavity, and there it can adhere to other organs and create everything from fleshy growths to full-blown obstructions.
Filing a Morcellator Lawsuit
For those who feel they have a legal case against the manufacturers of power morcellator devices, the current lawsuits take the following positions:
- Negligence cases – Plaintiffs indicated that the makers of the gear had the obligation to avoid any harm to the public.
- Fraudulent misrepresentation – Plaintiffs argue that the makers of morcellators presented their products as safe, when they were a threat to health.
- Failure to warn – Plaintiffs indicated that the makers of the gear should have warned the public of the threat of the spread of cancer or benign tissue.
- Failure to test – Plaintiffs argue that makers did not fully test the potential outcomes of the use of the gear.
- Risk – Plaintiffs express that a serious consumer risk was created by the devices and that the makers should have expressed the potential risks.
Currently there are several individuals with active cases against the power morcellator makers because of their subsequent development of cancer (LMS) after a procedure using their devices.
Weintraub, Karen. When a hysterectomy can be a death sentence. USAToday.com. 2014. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/02/18/hysterectomy-laparoscopic-morcellation-amy-reed/5347093/