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What can Happen When Surgical Equipment is Left Inside Your Body

Being under anesthesia to receive surgery puts you in a vulnerable position. You have to trust your doctor and all the other healthcare professionals in the room to perform the surgery correctly and to have your best interest in mind. Usually, this is exactly what happens, and the patient makes a full recovery.

Sometimes, though, healthcare professionals make errors. One particularly dangerous type of surgical error is leaving surgical equipment inside the patient's body after surgery, which puts the patient at risk of fatal injury. Victims and in fatal cases, their loved ones, can pursue compensation related to surgical error damages through medical malpractice claims. If surgical equipment is left inside your body after surgery, you can experience one or more of the following:

You can Experience Chronic Pain

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Birth Control Recalled Due to Packaging Error

In late May 2018, pharmaceutical manufacturer Allergan voluntarily recalled approximately 170,000 sample packs of its Taytulla birth control pills due to a packaging error. In the recalled packs, lot 5620706 with a May 2019 expiration date, had their placebo pills at the beginning of the packs, rather than the end where they are supposed to be. These four placebo pills contain no hormones and are meant to give users a “break,” during which they experience period-like bleeding, between three-week rounds of pills that contain hormones.

An incorrectly packaged medical product, such as the recalled birth control packages, is a defective medical product that can put patients at risk of suffering the effects of not receiving the medical care they need.

Product Manufacturers are Liable for the Damages Related to Their Products

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Who can be Liable for Defective Medical Device Damages

When a patient suffers an injury because of a defective medical device, he or she can seek compensation for his or her related damages through a defective medical device claim. In order to file a successful claim, the patient must first determine which party is liable for his or her damages. This depends on the actual circumstances of the patient's case. If you were injured in an incident involving a faulty or defective medical device, discuss your case with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine who is liable and how to pursue your claim.

The Device's Manufacturer

In many cases, a defective device's manufacturer is the party liable for the victim's damages. This can be because the device had a design defect, rendering it inherently unsafe, a manufacturing defect, which means the device was not manufactured according to its design and this lapse rendered the final product unsafe for users, or a marketing defect, which means the manufacturer did not disclose the device's potential hazards to physicians, patients, and healthcare providers who might purchase and use the device.

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How a Bair Hugger can Hurt a Patient

During surgery, the patient's body needs to be kept at a safe, consistent temperature. When the patient's body temperature drops below 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit, he or she can suffer from perioperative hypothermia, a condition associated with blood loss, an increased risk of infection, and an increased mortality rate.

Various machines exist to regulate patients' body temperatures during surgery, one of which is the 3M Bair Hugger. Recently, a group of patients who suffered infections after knee and joint replacement surgeries filed a class action defective medical device lawsuit against 3M, alleging that the warming system circulated contaminants through their bodies that caused them to suffer infections. The plaintiffs allege that the Bair Hugger system is unreasonably dangerous because 3M was negligent in its manufacture. According to the claim, 3M failed to properly test the device and did not warn healthcare providers or patients of the risks associated with its use.

What is a Bair Hugger?

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An influential health insurer trade group has called for more stringent rules related to the approval and tracking of medical devices. The request follows revelations of gaps or loopholes in the federal regulatory procedures which allow potentially dangerous medical devices to be put on the market with minimal safety and performance testing. In particular, the group referenced a medical tool used in performing hysterectomies which, despite being widely available, has been found to contribute to the spread of cancer in patients.

This week, America's Health Insurance Plans, an organization representing nearly 1300 health insurers who provide coverage for over 200 million Americans, sent a letter to United States Senator Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania, citing the dangers discovered regarding laparoscopic power morcellators. Since the 1990s, morcellators have been used to remove fibroids, or benign uterine growths, frequently during hysterectomies. Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that women undergoing such procedures may be at higher risk for a certain type of malignant cancer, and use of the devices can potentially spread the cancerous tissue and worsen the condition.

While medical officials are reporting a significant drop in the use of power morcellators, they remain on the market. Johnson & Johnson, once the largest manufacturer of such devices, however, has withdrawn from the market.

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