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Surgical Staplers Recalled After Death and Serious Injuries

Surgical Staplers Recalled After Death and Serious Injuries

Johnson & Johnson is issuing a recall for a surgical stapler after reports that seven patients were seriously injured and one died. According to news reports, the medical device, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon unit, is used to cut and staple tissue back together during surgery simultaneously. However, problems with a part led to staples failing to close incisions properly, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said.

Risk of Serious Injury and Death

The FDA classified this as a Class I recall, the most serious category declared only when there is a risk of serious injury or death. The staplers were linked to one death and seven injuries before Ethicon began recalling them on Oct. 3. The agency’s notice states that if a problem with the staple line is not recognized or properly addressed, there is a potential risk of prolonged surgery, postoperative connection leak, hemorrhage, hemorrhagic shock, additional surgical intervention, or death.

The recalled medical devices were distributed from Aug. 1 through Sept. 26. People who have had open or lightly invasive surgeries in the last two months or will be having surgery soon should ask their doctors what types of staplers were or will be used. The recall includes four different kinds of Echelon Flex Endopath staplers. In April, Ethicon recalled 92,486 curved staplers used in gastrointestinal surgeries for “insufficient firing and failure to form staples completely.”

Last March, the FDA sent a letter to healthcare providers after finding more than 41,000 medical device reports describing adverse events and deaths associated with using surgical staplers and staples for internal use between Jan. 1, 2011, and March 31, 2018. In April, the FDA proposed reclassifying surgical staplers from class I (general controls) into class II (special controls), and Medtronic and J&J offered support for that reclassification.

Liability Issues

Medical device manufacturers have a duty and an obligation to make devices safe for consumer use. When they make defective devices, consumers who receive those devices are not only put in extreme danger but may also need to have the device surgically removed from their bodies. This leads to additional pain and suffering and costs associated with surgery, hospitalization, and so on.

Injured victims of defective medical devices can seek compensation by filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. They may be able to seek damages such as medical expenses, loss of wages, hospitalization, permanent injuries, disabilities, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. An experienced product defect lawyer will be able to advise them regarding their legal rights and options.


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California Personal Injury Blog