Latest Personal Injury Lawsuit Accuses Power Morcellator Company of Spreading Woman’s Cancer
When power morcellators were first approved for use in the US, surgeons touted the tools as the best and least invasive method to remove uterine fibroids, which can cause pain in women, or help women who needed partial hysterectomies. At the time, the Food and Drug Administration believed that about 1 in every 7,000 female patients who underwent uterine fibroid removal had undetected uterine cancer – and for the FDA, that number was small enough to approve the device for use.
Unfortunately, a recent slew of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits contend that the FDA underestimated the potential problems with power morcellator surgery. An investigation of reported complaints indicates that in reality, 1 in 350 female patients who underwent uterine fibroid removal had undetected uterine cancer, and the power morcellator cut up tumors, allowing the cancer to “seed” across the uterus, as well as in other organs like the ovaries, the cervix, and even the stomach and intestines.
The FDA issued a warning about the dangers of power morcellator surgery last November, and many hospitals have stopped using the devices. Several insurance companies have also stopped covering surgery with these devices due to the long-term health risks, and Johnson & Johnson, one of the largest power morcellator manufacturers, recalled the device because of the associated hazards.
However, not all power morcellator companies have been as concerned with their patients’ health. A plaintiff and her husband filed a personal injury lawsuit in Philadelphia against an Olympus Corp medical device subsidiary that manufactures the PKS PlasmaSORD Bipolar Morcellator. Plaintiff, Marlene Waltman, filed the personal injury suit claiming that the use of a power morcellator caused undetected uterine cancer to metastasize across her abdominal cavity after undergoing surgery in July, 2011 to remove supposedly benign tumors from her uterus. Rather than helping to prevent cancer, she contends the power morcellator caused it to spread.
“The PKS PlasmaSORD Bipolar Morcellator disseminated and seeded cancer throughout plaintiff’s abdominal cavity, thereby causing and accelerating the metastases and spread of her cancer, worsening the long-term prognosis and the natural course of her cancer,” the complaint said. The lawsuit contends that the spread of the life-threatening cancer suffered by the plaintiff was a direct result of the use of the PKS PlasmaSORD Bipolar Morcellator during her 2011 surgical procedure.
The Waltmans’ lawsuit notes studies published in medical journals dating back as far back as the 1990s, which showed the potential dangers of power morcellator surgery. Despite these risks, the defendant negligently designed and sold a power morcellator device, the complaint alleges. Because the company did not inform doctors of the dangers, surgeons continued to recommend the power morcellators to patients like Marlene Waltman, who only recently discovered that their uterine surgery was the most likely cause of their cancer’s spread.
“Despite diligent investigation by plaintiffs into the cause of her injuries, including consultations with plaintiff’s medical providers, the nature of plaintiffs’ injuries and damages, and their relationship to PKS PlasmaSORD Bipolar Morcellator, was not discovered, and through reasonable care and due diligence could not have been discovered, until a date shortly prior to the filing of plaintiffs’ claims,” the complaint said.