In July, we reported that the “21st Century Cares Bill,” which included amendments that specifically addressed the cancer risks associated with power morcellators, had cleared some of the preliminary hurdles to becoming law. Now, we are disappointed to report that these important amendments have been stricken from the record. The House of Representatives Rules Committee killed the so-called “Fitzpatrick Amendments” during its summer session.
Texas Congressman Puts an End to Legislative Fight Against Power Morcellators
Sadly, Congressman Burgess, representative of the 26th District of Texas, was instrumental in the death of the Fitzpatrick Amendments. The 26th District covers Denton and portions of Tarrant County, northwest of Houston.
Himself a gynecological surgeon, Congressman Burgess acknowledged that gynecologists using power morcellators were failing to protect their patients against the risk of cancer. Yet, in opposing the Fitzpatrick Amendments, he argued that it was not the government’s role to evaluate the cause of this life-threatening problem.
While other experts have pointed to issues with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval process for medical devices, Burgess says this isn’t the issue. Burgess blames the doctors who use power morcellators – not the government agency that approved them. In his own words, “Every doctor who operates on the abdomen knows that if there is a Stage 1 encapsulated tumor, that disrupting the capsule could make the cancer spread…I think it was clinical judgment at fault, not the FDA’s approval process.”
What the Death of the Fitzpatrick Amendments Means for Patients
Power morcellators have been on the market for more than two decades and they are widely known to increase patients’ risk of contracting a form of cancer known as Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) during hysterectomies. Unfortunately, despite the known risks, some surgeons still choose to use these dangerous devices. The Fitzpatrick Amendments would have helped protect unsuspecting patients from contracting LMS from power morcellators.
However, due to the efforts of Congressman Burgess, hysterectomy patients will continue to face the same risks they face today. This is in spite of the fact that the size of the problem is much greater than previously thought. When the FDA approved power morcellators more than 20 years ago, the estimate was that maybe one in 10,000 patients would be susceptible to contracting cancer.
But, new research shows that the rate is closer to 1 in 350. This is an astonishing difference — one that warrants renewed action to protect patients from unnecessary harm.
Have You Contracted Cancer from a Power Morcellator? Contact Morrow & Sheppard LLP
We at Morrow & Sheppard LLP are disappointed that the Fitzpatrick Amendments did not become law. We are passionate advocates for patients’ rights and would have welcomed stronger protections against the dangers of power morcellators.
Fortunately, women who contract LMS from power morcellators can still seek financial compensation for their losses. At Morrow & Sheppard LLP, our Houston injury lawyers can help you fight for the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your case, please call our Houston law offices at (800) 489-2216 or contact us online today.