Medical Negligence
By Conal McGarrity
Latest News

Women in UK Claim they were not Informed of Risk of Cancer from Breast Implants

Women in the UK have claimed that they were not adequately warned of the risks of cancer associated with Allergan breast implants. A global investigation into the use of Allergan implants has revealed a potential link between this particular implant and a rare form of cancer. This has resulted in the Implant being withdrawn from the European market in December 2018 while further investigations are carried out. There are 45 confirmed cases of lymphoma in the UK which are linked to the Allergan implant.

Women have also complained of other complications arising, such as capsular contracture; where breast tissue hardens around the implant causing pain and swelling. Many victims say they received no warning, or inadequate warning, about the risk of developing cancer as a result of the implant. Julie Harris, a 57-year-old woman from Manchester, was diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) last year and there is now a risk of the cancer spreading. She states that ‘if anyone had breathed a word about cancer risk, I would never have had the Allergan implants.’

This raises serious questions, not only about the manufacturing of the product, but also the alleged failure of medical professionals to adequately warn patients of the potential risks of the Implant. The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has advised its members to stop using the Allergan implants as a precaution. While the manufacturers maintain that the implants are clinically proven to be safe there are still doubts around this. US health authorities have been investigating the link between textured breast implants and this rare form of lymphoma since 2011. In Australia and New Zealand 90 patients have reportedly developed the illness as a result of these implants, including 4 fatalities. The key question to consider in terms of legal action is who was at fault?

If the manufacturer of the Allergan implant has been negligent in the development of the product then they can be sued. If it can be proven that medical professionals or healthcare regulators were aware of the risks of cancer associated with the Allergan implant, then they may also be sued for medical negligence. There is still some confusion over whether medical professionals were aware of the risks involved with using this implant, however, it has been suggested that surgeons would have been aware that a small percentage of women that have underwent the procedure have developed this rare form of lymphoma (ALCL).

If this was the case, then medical professionals who have not given adequate warning to patients about the risks of the procedure may have failed to reach the threshold of informed consent. While there is no duty to make patients aware of every possible risk of a procedure, it is reasonable to expect that patients would be informed of any potential risk of cancer, even if it is a very low percentage of risk. The Allergan Implant has been banned in France, The Netherlands and Canada, while other states look set to follow their lead.

While investigations to discern the link between the implant and anaplastic large cell lymphoma are ongoing, the scandal has raised concerns over the standard of healthcare provided to women in the UK. The mesh implants scandal, which surfaced in 2018 in the UK, has already resulted in several successful compensation claims against both manufacturers and healthcare authorities. At PA Duffy and Company our expert medical negligence solicitors are very experienced in cases of this nature.

If you feel you have been mistreated by a medical professional, we can advise you on your options with regard to seeking compensation. We can advise on whether you have a viable claim and will instruct medical experts to investigate any alleged negligence.

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