Power morcellators are surgical devices used during hysterectomies and uterine fibroid removal procedures. Morcellators crush tissue, making it easier to extract from the patient's body. When they originally hit the market, morcellators were lauded for increasing efficiency and reducing risk during surgical procedures, but there is evidence the latter is false.
Several women who underwent power morcellator procedures now claim the devices were responsible for spreading previously undetected cancer cells throughout their bodies and they are taking legal action. The spread of the cancer cells led to development of aggressive, later stage cancers that originally posed manageable risk, at least in the short-term. Because it is difficult to diagnose the presence of cancer in a uterine fibroid prior to its removal, doctors have no way of knowing the morcellator will cause damage. By the time cancer cells are detected, they have already spread.
Safety of Power Morcellators Debated within the Medical Community
The power morcellator debate is one of the most volatile in the medical community. Following a safety advisory from the US Food and Drug Administration, the primary manufacturer of morcellators, Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, pulled its devices from the market worldwide in 2014. For more information about the safety warning and subsequent suspension of sales, visit Medscape.
Still, despite the ongoing debate and members of the medical community who believe the risk is definitive, there are still those who believe morcellators can be used safely in surgical procedures. Others believe even with risk involved, there are women who will prefer the option of procedures with a morcellator because the device makes it possible to remove uterine fibroids without ending a women's chance of becoming pregnant.
Multidistrict Litigation Underway against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson
Legal action has been underway for some time regarding power morcellator devices and many of the cases have been condensed into multi-district litigation in order to make the trial process easier for plaintiffs and everyone else involved. Most recently, a federal judge approved members of a plaintiff's steering committee, made up of 20 members, 11 of whom are female.
According to committee member Rebecca King, an attorney at Houston's Tracey & Fox, “I think we're seeing a lot of women's health issues in these various mass torts over the past few years. It's necessary to involve women because we bring a woman's perspective to the case. We can identify with these clients in a way that's unique.”
Andrus Wagstaff founding partner Aimee Wagstaff will serve as co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs, sharing the job with Paul Pennock of the law firm Weitz & Lulxenberg. Numerous power morcellator manufacturers are facing legal action, but as the largest manufacturer of morcellators, Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson have received the majority of attention.
If you would like more information about legal action against Ethicon, Inc. and other manufacturers of power morcellators, or you were injured in a procedure that utilized a power morcellator, contact the attorneys at Andrus Wagstaff law firm at 866.534.5014 or visit the firm's website at andruswagstaff.com.