Numerous lawsuits have been filed over the past month against Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson over their Physiomesh hernia mesh patches. These lawsuits allege that the product was defectively designed and failed to contain adequate warnings of the harms it can cause, including infection, perforation, migration, and the need for additional surgeries. Physiomesh was recalled and removed from the market by Ethicon on May 25, 2016. In issuing its recall, Ethicon admitted that reoperation rates were higher than for other types of hernia mesh.
In one of the cases, filed on March 21, Michael Elinson, a Canadian citizen, was treated in a West Palm Beach, Florida hospital for a hernia repair in 2014. As part of the repair, the surgeon implanted with Physiomesh, but the product allegedly made his condition worse instead of better. He suffered a bowel obstruction, infection, and his hernia came back, among other health problems. When he returned after his surgery for an ultrasound, the mesh that had been previously implanted could not be found. According to his attorneys, he will need additional surgeries in the future to repair the damage caused by the Physiomesh.
Mesh Coating May Cause Failure
Physiomesh is different from other types of hernia mesh in that it has a coating on both sides. This coating prevents the implant from being incorporated into the tissues in the body. As a result, Physiomesh tends to migrate, or move around, in the body—defeating its whole purpose of staying in place to repair hernia damage.
Patients who were implanted with Physiomesh may suffer a variety of complications and injuries, including pain, bleeding, infection, nerve damage, intestinal blockage, or organ perforation. Physiomesh may also lead to seromas, or fluid buildup in or around the surgical site. Also, due to the product’s failure, the hernia it was designed to repair may reoccur.
Physiomesh, like several other kinds of surgical mesh, is primarily composed of polypropylene, a type of plastic. This material tends to stick or adhere to bodily tissue, and will eventually cause the tissue to erode, ultimately destroying it. The coating Ethicon created for both sides of Physiomesh was designed to protect the body against the destructive effects of polypropylene—but this effort seems to have backfired, by making the product more likely to migrate in the body. Even if the product works as intended, the coating will eventually be absorbed by the body, and then the polypropylene will start to erode away the tissue, leading to health problems and potentially to additional surgeries.
Hernia Mesh Lawsuits to be Centralized
On May 25, 2017, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is likely to hold a hearing on how the dozens of Physiomesh cases will proceed. Most likely, the cases will all be centralized in one Federal Court. If this occurs, however, each patient who has suffered health problems because of their hernia mesh will still have to file their own individual lawsuit in order to receive compensation for their medical expenses and suffering.
Keane Law LLC is currently reviewing Physiomesh cases. If you or a loved one has suffered injury as a result of this product, our attorneys can provide a free consultation to determine whether you may have a case.