Medicolegal Review: Essure Lawsuits and Legal Strategies Adverse to Gynecologists

Amber M. Klimczak, Russell Snyder, Mostafa A. Borahay, John Phelps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The minimally invasive Essure procedure for hysteroscopic sterilization is an ongoing target for litigation. Although efficacious, this device has been scrutinized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) owing to alleged complications. Patients affected by these potential complications are filing lawsuits against Bayer, the manufacturer of Essure. Many of these lawsuits have been barred by preemption, a legal doctrine that limits what can be required of a product by state lawsuits once the FDA approves it; however, in the lawsuits that have been allowed to proceed, the manufacturer has used a legal strategy termed the "learned intermediary doctrine" in an effort to shift blame to the gynecologist to absolve itself of liability. The learned intermediary only requires that a manufacturer inform the gynecologist of the risks associated with the device, and the gynecologist, in turn, must notify the patients through adequate informed consent. To incorporate the necessary components of informed consent, a gynecologist should include what a reasonable practitioner would consider pertinent to the discussion, as well as what a prudent patient would want to know to make a treatment decision. This disclosure entails explaining the risks, benefits, and alternatives, which should be clearly documented in the medical records. Understanding the importance of proper documentation and the legal strategies used in suits will help gynecologists lessen liability exposure when using a medical device, such as Essure, that is being targeted for litigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 28 2016

Keywords

  • Essure
  • Informed consent
  • Lawsuit
  • Sterilization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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