By Emily Cox
Tampa, FL — A new lawsuit alleges that Ethicon Physiomesh caused extensive damage throughout a Florida woman’s abdominal cavity, including a condition that causes the contents of the stomach or intestines to leak through an opening in the skin.
The lawsuit was filed Monday by Lillian Graham in the Middle District of Florida against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Ethicon. According to the claim, Graham was implanted with two Ethicon Physiomesh devices. One was 20cm x 25cm. The other was 10cm x 15cm. Graham claims that Physiomesh’s defective design caused severe infections, abscesses, as well as extensive adhesions and fistulas among other serious complications. Adhesions are scar tissue that fuses organs together. Fistulas are abnormal connections between hollow organs such as the intestines and stomach.
Multiple Surgeries to Address Ethicon Physiomesh Complications
In June 2013, Graham underwent surgery to remove one of the Ethicon Physiomesh devices due to failure and hernia recurrence. Surgeons found extensive infections from the Physiomesh with abdominal wall abscesses and a fistulous connection from the stomach to the abscess cavity. Her small bowel was also densely adhered to an inflammatory mass.
“This was carefully dissected away and the inflammatory mass was entered revealing a cavity in the upper anterior abdominal wall containing very purulent foul-smelling wadded mesh material,” doctors stated in the lawsuit.
Doctors surgically excised the inflammatory mass and festering mesh material and took down the adhesions and gastric fistulas.
In November 2013, Graham underwent another surgery to treat Ethicon Physiomesh complications. It took doctors about two hours to free up her bowel from the multiple, extensive adhesions inside Graham’s abdomen.
Since then, Graham has endured numerous additional surgical procedures to attempt to treat the enterocutaneous fistula caused by the failed, defective Physiomesh in her body. An enterocutaneous fistula is an abnormal connection that forms between the intestinal tract or stomach and the skin. As a result, the contents of these organs seep through to the skin.
Ethicon Physiomesh Lawsuits
Graham joins a rising number of individuals filing similar Ethicon Physiomesh lawsuits around the country. These lawsuits allege that Physiomesh’s design is to blame for the extensive reports of complications from the device. The device has five distinct layers with a multi-layer coating. This feature is unique to the Physiomesh. Ethicon designed the multi-layer coating to prevent or minimize adhesion and inflammation. It also promises to help the mesh incorporate into the body. However, these lawsuits allege that it does the exact opposite. It also provides a breeding ground for bacteria that the body’s immune response cannot eliminate.
According to the plaintiffs, the Ethicon Physiomesh also has a high rate of failure. Furthermore, Ethicon designed the multi-layer coating to degrade inside the body over time. As this coating degrades, the exposed mesh adheres to organs, causing fistulas, bowel strangulation, and her hernia incarceration, as well as bowel perforation or erosion among other injuries. Consequently, they allege that the device’s benefits are nonexistent.
The lawsuits claim that Ethicon and Johnson & Johnson knew or should have known about these risks. However, instead of disclosing these dangers to the public, they concealed them to protect Ethicon Physiomesh’s substantially higher profit margin compared to other hernia mesh products.
Experts expect that hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals will file additional lawsuits in the coming months and years.