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Surgery using defective medical device may spread cancer

Posted By On Behalf of Sullivan Brill || 12-Sep-2014

A surgical technique using what are called morcellator devices has come under severe scrutiny nationwide, including in New York, and may be discontinued. The devices are electronically powered and are used in gynecologic surgeries. They are billed as minimally invasive, but the downside is that they place the patient at risk of spreading any undetected cancer that may be present. The potentially defective medical device minces ovarian tissues into small pieces and attempts to remove those pieces from the body.

In that process, experts believe that the device also causes the migration of undetected cancer cells within the uterus and to other parts of the body. That could obviously be an irreversible and terminal development for the patient. The evidence is mounting that the device is a dangerous product in uterine surgeries. The FDA this summer announced that morcellator surgery is not recommended for laparoscopic gynecologic surgeries, including hysterectomies and myomectomies.

The FDA indicated a risk of spreading cancer through the use of the device in surgery. That risk has led to the denial of the procedure for insurance coverage by several of the major health insurers. In fact, the manufacturer and seller of morcellator devices in the United States, Johnson & Johnson, issued a recall on the devices on July 31, 2014.

Due to the recall and the FDA warning, lawsuits are popping up against Ethicon Inc., which is the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary that makes and markets the devices. In one notable case, a lawsuit against another company that makes morcellators was filed on the basis of the patient developing a diagnosis of uterine cancer. In that case, she had a hysterectomy using a morcellator in May 2012 and was diagnosed with uterine cancer on May 30, 2014.

Products liability lawsuits pertaining to a defective medical device are commonly filed in New York and throughout the country. The morcellator cases appear to be a particularly strong class of cases. This is due to the government warning, the recall and apparent medical evidence of a clear connection between the device and the spread of undiagnosed cancer.

Source: insurancenewsnet.com, "Morcellator Lawsuit News Update: A Growing Number of Health Plans Stop Covering Morcellator Surgery Due to Cancer Risk" Aug. 31, 2014