Healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson announced recently that it would stop selling and distributing its power morcellators, after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that its use in hysterectomies and myomectomies could lead to cancer in women. A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 27 of every 10,000 women who underwent a hysterectomy using a morcellator machine could develop cancerous tumors that could spread to other parts of the body.
Moreover, scientists could not determine if a uterine fibroid could be cancerous prior to being removed with such a machine. Because of this, they discouraged the use of power morcellators and advised doctors to fully discuss the risks and benefits of using other treatment options.
As such, Johnson & Johnson has pulled the machines from the marketplace.
The move is beneficial in two respects. First, physicians have a legal duty to use reasonable care in treating patients. This means that they must act as a reasonable professional in their field would when making decisions about treatment options. If a particular treatment brings the possibility of causing more harm than good, the doctor has a duty to discuss them with the patient and advise of a different course of action. Failing to do this could be seen as a breach of the duty to use such care, and could result in a lawsuit if the patient is harmed.
Also, Johnson & Johnson has a duty to its customers to protect them from harms caused by its products. If it fails to take reasonable steps to correct the problem, it could be held liable if a patient is harmed.