You may have seen the ominous television commercials warning patients about the risks of "Hernia Mesh" and the life-threatening side effects they pose to patients who have had them surgically implanted. Patients have sustained so many injuries over the course of the last decade that the safety of the device has been called into question. While a number of television commercials are dramatic, meant for shock value, and to draw a profit from viewers, the commercials about Hernia Mesh Implants provide accurate information meant to inform.
Class Actions lawsuits against the manufacturers of hernia mesh implants are in the thousands, dating back to the early 2000s and some even prior to that. These lawsuits were filed from a class of patients whose claims range from bodily injury due to a defective implant to claims filed on behalf of loved ones who suffered fatalities from what should've been a medical grade (safe) device.
A thing of the past
These once widely popular implants posed a solution to the problem many patients faced when confronted with a painful hernia. A hernia can be defined as: "a condition in which part of an organ is displaced and protrudes through the wall of the cavity containing it (often involving the intestine at a weak point in the abdominal wall)." This painful medical problem had a routinely performed fix: hernia mesh implants.
Hernia repairs utilizing mesh implants were a frequently performed surgical procedure–and when performed correctly should have posed no harm to patients who received them. Before we brief our readers on why these medical devices have become the health hazard they are today, we must begin by explaining what, exactly, a hernia mesh implant actually is.
According to consumersafety.org:
These medical devices, which can be made out of a number of materials, can help add support to the weakened or damaged tissue. For the most part, surgeons rely on hernia mesh to help reduce the high recurrence rate of hernias and also potentially reduce recovery time. It’s estimated that today more than 90% of groin hernia repairs use surgical mesh.
Who's to blame?
Hernia mesh implants come in a variety of materials. These materials range from manufacturer Atrium's C-QUR mesh and their competitor Ethicon’s "Physiomesh". These companies were primarily responsible for the bulk of claims regarding defective mesh implants that caused life-threatening complications and wrongful deaths. These companies were singled out in particular because they manufactured their implants using materials deemed categorically unsafe for the human body.
Known to degrade drastically over time, mesh implants caused erosion a short time after being placed inside patients. Knowing this and doing nothing to rectify the mistake, create a safer product that would exceed FDA standards, and keep patients safe, the manufacturers are liable for not only Strict Product Liability, but for any claims of negligence and wrongful death that arose as a result of putting profit before patients.
Safety hazards hinder healing
The C-QUR mesh was claimed to be "surgical grade" (fit to be placed in a human body indefinitely). However, this mesh was made using a polymer called "polypropylene" which according to Consumer Safety is known to erode over a period of time that was never specified by manufacturers. Ethicon was aware of this but prioritized profit, leading to dozens of terrifying side effects that left patients hospitalized or dead.
As the material erodes in the body, the immune system attempts to expel it. When it cannot, deadly symptoms occur, preventing healing and causing further complications that would not have arisen if the implant was in fact "surgical grade".
The injuries side effects named in the thousands of Class Action claims filed against mesh manufacturers included:
- Implant migration (movement of the original placement from where it was intended to another position in the body)
- Bowel obstruction and bowel perforation
- Organ perforation
- Scar tissue known as "adhesions" on organs and around the deteriorated mesh implant site
Research over the last 20 or so years have shown that when a patient is diagnosed with a hernia, the first line approach is to place a surgical mesh implant to relieve the pain and stop any further complications. However, there is little proof that these devices were meant to remain inside the body for any extended period of time, making Atrium and Ethicon's claims of longterm use unbelievable at best, and medically impossible at worst.
Where does the law stand?
Because many hernia mesh lawsuits provide clear cut allegations of medical negligence and strict product liability, federal judges were given enough evidence to conclude that Atrium and Ethicon were aware of the defects in their medical devices but chose not to take them off the market. Due to this, Class Action proceedings were allowed to proceed. Furthermore, due to factual evidence that the manufacturers failed to maintain proper safety protocol in the production of their products, leaving the door open for Class members to receive not only compensation resulting from a Strict Product Liability claim, but to be awarded damages on behalf of lost loved ones in the case of wrongful death.
Litigation is still pending on these Class Action claims against hernia mesh manufacturers Ethicon and Atrium, which means victims and their loved ones still have a limited window to retain counsel if they were injured or lost a loved one as a result of these defective implants. Legal proceedings on this matter are moving quickly after years long back-and-forth, though, so victims must retain board certified legal counsel before the clock runs out and they lose their right to seek the justice they deserve.
In the case of a Class Action lawsuit, it's important to have legal counsel that's aware of the statutes of limitations and can successfully get their client on board a claim before it's too late.
Learn more about Class Action claims and your rights by visiting our Class Action website at classactionlawsuit.legal