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Richards & Richards has written several times in the past about power morcellators and the detrimental effects they have on women. Problems arise when women with fibroids, a common medical condition, go to have them removed and unknowingly have cancer cells within the fibroids. Odds are that 1:300 – 1:500 women with fibroids have cancerous cells. The morcellator works as a laparoscopic grinder that shreds the fibroid, then sucks what remains out through a tube. Issues arise when women with cancerous cells within those fibroids have those cells scattered about by the morcellator, essentially spreading what would have been stage one cancer with an 85% success rate to stage four cancer with a 15% success rate. Now, the FBI has finally gotten involved after thousands of complaints of medical malpractice occurrences because of power morcellators.
The FBI is investigating the power morcellator, though it was pulled from the market last year because of the dangers associated with the risk of spreading cancer in women with fibroids. The Wall Street Journal has reported that federal investigators are looking into what the device’s largest manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, knew about the problems associated with the device.
Officially known as a “laparoscopic power morcellator,” it was used by surgeons during certain hysterectomy procedures and to remove fibroids. As mentioned, the morcellator grinds up tissue to be removed through tiny incisions. However, when the device was used on women who had unfound uterine sarcoma cancer, the morcellator would spread the cancerous tissue throughout the abdomen and pelvis of the patient.
The FDA issued an official warning in April 2014, saying that morcellation could “significantly worsen…a patient’s likelihood of long-term survival.” The FDA required morcellator manufacturers to place a sensitive warning on all morcellator product labels in November of 2014. The division of J&J that makes morcellators, Ethicon, told physicians to stop using the device and pulled the morcellators from the market. Other companies that make models of the device are still selling them. Experts estimate that, prior to 2015, about 60,000 power morcellator procedures were performed each year.
If you are a woman who has had a procedure done with a power morcellator and have since been diagnosed with cancer, or you are the family member of a woman who died after her cancer was spread by a power morcellator, please call the Pennsylvania medical malpractice attorneys at Richards & Richards today for a free preliminary consultation at 412-261-2620.
Source: CBSnews.com, “Report: FBI investigating medical device that spread cancer in women” 27 May 2015