Medical malpractice covers more than just doctor error. Every year, thousands of patients are injured by faulty or ineffective surgical instruments, or by medical devices that are actually installed in the body. When the problems are discovered, the repair work can be cost and cause more damage than the original condition. Learning more about medical device injury can help you decide if you need to speak to an attorney about your case.
The equipment used to perform a surgery or used as part of a surgical procedure can be faulty even if the physician performed the surgery correctly. While medical device failure happens across many specialties, the gynecology has been particularly dangerous for patients in recent years. Recent cases filed by more than one medical malpractice attorney include both faulty products and tools. A look at two recent medical device failures will highlight the differences between faulty products and faulty surgical tools.
Faulty Products: Transvaginal Mesh
Transvaginal mesh is an excellent example of a faulty medical product. This synthetic plastic was developed to help women suffering from prolapsed bladders and incontinence, but had unintended consequences for patients. In a typical surgery, doctors inserted this netlike bit of plastic into the pelvis through the vagina, anchoring it in place. The mesh was meant to work like a little hammock, holding the pelvic organs in place.
While the mesh did the job and was non-invasive, for many patients, it worked too well. The mesh began to encroach onto other organs and actually grow into the tissue of the bladder and uterus. Removal is painful and causes additional damage, leaving women treated with the mesh for a mild to moderate problem left with a host of severe medical problems that required multiple surgeries to fix. More than one medical malpractice attorney has filed claims in state and federal court, and most manufacturers have dropped the product from the marketplace.
Faulty Devices: Power Morcellators
Like most medical devices and tools, power morcellators were designed to be beneficial and to offer more benefits than risks for patients. This tiny power tool was created to aid surgeons performing hysterectomies via laparoscopic or robotic surgery. Less invasive than traditional surgery, laparoscopic methods allow the surgeon to make a few tiny incisions and perform the procedure with tiny tools. One of these tools, the morcellator, was designed to break up tissue for easier removal; smaller bits could be easily extracted via small incisions.
The tools did work for the surgeries, but the aftermath was catastrophic for some patients. Once the morcellator was in place, it worked like a tiny rotary blade or weed wacker, dispersing tissue through the pelvic cavity. For patients with even a single pre-cancerous cell, cancer that had been confined to a singular location was also spread through the pelvis, greatly increasing the patient's risk. While this dangerous type of equipment is no longer sold, some facilities still stock and use it. More than one medical malpractice attorney continues to file lawsuits on behalf of affected patients across the country.