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The power morcellator injury attorneys at the Drug Law Center are taking up new claims from women who have been diagnosed with various forms of cancer after undergoing any medical procedure that required the use of a power morcellator. It has been found that while these devices allow surgeons to perform operations with smaller incisions, they can also spread cancer tissue and make it far more likely for women who have undiagnosed cancer to suffer from advanced stage forms of cancer which may have otherwise been treated or prevented in an appropriate time frame.
The History of Power Morcellators
The purpose of power morcellators is to allow surgeons to remove large amounts of tissue through small incisions so that they can perform less invasive procedures. They appear like a drill and are able to cut large pieces of tissue, such as a fibroid, tumor or organ, into small pieces that are removed by a vacuum. One of the benefits of these devices is that they allow surgeons to operate on organs such as the spleen, liver and uterus while avoiding the need to cut into the abdominal muscles.
Power morcellators made it to market in 1991 through the 510(k) process, which means they were allowed to bypass the need for clinical research and testing through this very popular loophole in the device approval process which has allowed manufacturers the ability to push products on the public without verifying their safety.
Minimally invasive procedures have become extremely popular because they promise the prospect of a quicker recovery time and fewer complications during surgery. Studies have contested whether they are actually any safer, however, and power morcellators have proven to come with serious risks for women at risk of cervical or uterine cancer.
Complications Linked to Power Morcellators
Since morcellators are used to remove fibroids and perform procedures such as hysterectomies, they come with many risks to begin with. The dissemination of tissue, however, is one of the most serious risks as it allows cancer tissue to move throughout the body and into other organs. For this reason, cancer is one of the greatest concerns for women undergoing these procedures.
Cervical and uterine cancer can be devastating and difficult to treat unless detected in early stages. A Stage III or IV diagnosis is almost a death sentence, which is why the dissemination of cancerous tissue is such a serious concern. Most of the women who were later diagnosed with Stage IV cancers were never diagnosed with cancer and the morcellation of their organs or tissues caused the undetected cancer cells to spread rapidly to their uterus, cervix or other areas of the body.
These are not the only complications, however, and the full list includes the following.
- Internal bleeding— it has been reported that undetected and uncontrolled internal bleeding has resulted from the use of these devices, causing serious complications later on which can even threaten the victim’s life.
- Infection— just as the dissemination of cancer tissue can spread cancer, morcellation can also spread bacteria throughout the surrounding tissue, increasing the risk and severity of infections.
- Organ perforation— since power morcelators are capable of efficiently tearing apart tissue, it is possible for the devices to damage important organs that the surgeon never intended to touch.
- Abscess— an abscess occurs due to tissue death and necrosis in the surrounding area and can cause the surrounding tissue to die off or become infected.
By 2014, the FDA issued a statement warning that there is a legitimate risk that morcellators could spread cancer tissue and that it is impossible to determine whether a woman with fibroids also has undetected cancer in very early stages. For this reason, Johnson & Johnson was forced to suspend the sale of its power morcellators while the FDA considers future action.
Financial Toll of Cancer Diagnosis
Women who have been diagnosed with cancer following a power morcellation procedure face a physical and financial battle for survival. Treatment for uterine cancer can quickly exceed $100,000 and there is no guarantee of survival for those in later stages. There are resources available to help women who are struggling financially to cover the costs of their cancer treatment which include the following.
- Participation in clinical trials— this allows cancer patients access to new treatment options and helps ensure that they are covered by medical insurance and the company performing the trials. An insurance company is prohibited from denying you coverage if you choose this route.
- Non-profit assistance— some non-profit organizations are willing to cover incidental costs such as transportation to reputable cancer treatment specialists, home care and the cost of your medications.
- Prescription assistance programs— certain pharmaceutical companies do have assistance programs that allow patients access to medications that they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise.
Women diagnosed with various forms of cancer and who have been injured by power morcellation procedures are coming forward to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of these devices. The plaintiffs believe that the medical companies knew of the risks and failed to communicate them. In many cases, women would have elected to undergo a traditional procedure instead if they were informed of these risks.
Our award winning power morcellator attorneys are ready to fight on your behalf, so if you have been injured, we would like to invite you to contact us today so that we can arrange a free case review. We work entirely on contingency so that you will never need to worry about the cost of legal representation in addition to the physical, emotional and financial turmoil you are already experiencing. If we are unable to secure compensation on your behalf, our services are free of charge.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the makers of power morcellators after they elected to undergo procedures marketed as safe and effective, only to be diagnosed later with advanced stage uterine or cervical cancers. The power morcellator injury attorneys at the Drug Law Center are helping those who have lost loved ones or been injured themselves due to complications linked with these devices. While Johnson & Johnson pulled its own devices and hospitals have begun to limit their use of these devices, many manufacturers continue to push morcellation procedures as effective alternatives to traditional surgery.
Despite Warnings, Morcellators Still on the Market
After the FDA declared that there is a clear danger to women undergoing morcellation operations of the dissemination of cancer tissue, Johnson & Johnson proceeded to remove its products from the market. Other manufacturers did not, however, despite many hospitals now moving to ban the use of these products and to advise women toward traditional procedures. The issue has prompted Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand from New York to request that the FDA intervene.
It was found that the companies still marketing power morcellators are understating the risks and that the true risk of developing aggressive forms of cancers is nine times that of what has been disclosed. Such tactics are considered negligent, fraudulent and unethical across the medical and legal community alike, unleashing a sea of litigation.
As it stands, the FDA estimates that 1 in 350 women are at serious risk of developing cancer following any procedure using a power morcellator.
Grounds Used to Justify Power Morcellator Lawsuits
Among all of the allegations made against the medical device manufacturers, plaintiffs have made the following claims.
- Device manufacturers rushed products to market without proper testing. The 510(k) program is partly responsible, but it is still the responsibility of medical device companies to make sure their products are safe prior to placing them on the market.
- After learning of the dangers, manufacturers refused to recall devices. For 23 years, the FDA dragged its feet on this issue, but despite the sternest warnings, manufacturers continue to push their dangerous products.
- The same companies failed to warn the public about the known risks and dangers so that they could choose whether or not to accept the risks on their own.
- The manufacturers committed fraud when they misled both the FDA and the public with claims that their products were safe and effective. Both claims have been disproven, as there is no real increase in effectiveness compared to traditional procedures.
- The medical device companies profited greatly off of the misfortune of others and were fully aware of this— doing nothing to protect the lives of their consumers.
Manufacturers Attempt to Bully Patient Advocates
Despite the FDA declaring in 2014 that power morcellators could spread cancer, one of the manufacturers unleashed a vicious attack against one of the most outspoken patient advocates who was seeking to have the products removed from the market. Dr. Hooman Noorshashm has been advocating on behalf of women since his wife was diagnosed with cancer following a hysterectomy with a Storz product. He has been threatened with lawsuits for doing so, with Storz claiming that he was ruining the company’s name and infringing on its rights.
Meanwhile thousands of women have lost their lives because of advanced stage cancers linked to the use of Storz products and others like them.
Let Our Experienced Power Morcellator Lawyers Fight on Your Behalf
If you have been diagnosed with cancer or otherwise injured due to a power morcellator procedure, the Drug Law Center can help you find the justice and compensation you need for peace of mind and to cover expenses such as medical treatment, out of pocket expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and more. We would like to invite you to learn more about how we can help you through a free case evaluation with one of our proficient attorneys so that you can learn more about your rights and options.
Contact us today to be connected with an award winning power morcellator injury attorney so that we can begin working for you right away. We know that you have a lot to worry about and legal fees would only add even more unneeded financial stress to your life. This is why we guarantee never to accept payment until we have been able to secure the compensation you deserve on your behalf. If we fail to do so, you have our assurance that our services will be completely free of charge.