Power Morcellator Lawyers at Bernstein Liebhard LLP Comment on Insurers’ Decision to Restrict Most Common Form of Hysterectomies

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The decision by UnitedHealthCare to restrict laparoscopic or abdominal hysterectomies comes months after the FDA warned against the use of power morcellators in such procedures, as the devices may spread and upstage undetected uterine cancers.

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UnitedHealthcare is just the most recent insurer to limit coverage for hysterectomies which require the use of a power morcellator since the FDA began warning about their potential to spread undetected uterine cancers last year.

Just months after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warned against the use of power morcellators (http://www.morcellatorlawsuit2015.com) in minimally invasive hysterectomies and fibroid removal surgeries, insurer UnitedHealthCare is poised to restrict coverage for hysterectomies that require the use of those devices. In a notification sent to physicians in January, the company said that beginning in April, it would require pre-authorization for laparoscopic or abdominal hysterectomies, the most common types of hysterectomies performed in the U.S. The new coverage restrictions go into effect in April.*

“UnitedHealthcare is just the most recent insurer to limit coverage for hysterectomies which require the use of a power morcellator since the FDA began warning about their potential to spread undetected uterine cancers last year. We are pleased with this news, as UnitedHealthcare is the largest insurer in the U.S.,and its decision has the potential to significantly reduce the number of women who undergo hysterectomies that utilize these devices,” says Bernstein Liebhard LLP, a nationwide law firm representing victims of defective drugs and medical devices.** The Firm is providing free legal consultations to women who were diagnosed with advanced uterine cancers following uterine morcellation.

Power Morcellator Controversy
Bernstein Liebhard LLP notes that UnitedHealthCare’s policy statement regarding its new hysterectomy restrictions specifically cited the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) recent actions regarding uterine morcellation.* The agency issued its initial warning regarding power morcellators in April 2014, and specifically discouraged doctors from using the devices in minimally-invasive hysterectomies because of the danger that they might disseminate and upstage undetected uterine cancers. At the time the agency noted that such malignancies are difficult to detect prior to surgery, and that their spread can significantly reduce a woman’s chances for long-term survival. ***

Then, in November 2014, the FDA issued a second alert, which warned against the use of power morcellators in the majority of women who require hysterectomy and fibroid removals. The agency also asked morcellator manufacturers to add a new black box warning – the strongest possible safety notice – regarding this life-threatening complication to their labels.

In September 2014, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based Capital BlueCross announced it would do so effective November 1st.**** In August, Highmark, Inc., one of the nation’s largest Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance companies, disclosed that it would end coverage of uterine morcellation as of September 1st. ***** In Massachusetts, Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim and Fallon Health have also subjected morcellation to coverage restrictions.******

Over the last year, Bernstein Liebhard LLP notes that a number of lawsuits have also been filed against the manufacturers of power morcellators on behalf of women who allegedly experienced the spread of uterine cancers due to the devices. Most recently, a claim was filed against Karle Storz Inc. in the U.S. District Court, District of South Carolina on December 23, 2014, on behalf of a woman who was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of uterine cancer following surgery with a Storz Rotocut GI morcellator. (Case No. 2:14-cv-04839-RMG). A similar a complaint filed on December 3, 2014, in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri, alleged that the use of an Ethicon Gynecare morcellator during a hysterectomy resulted in a woman’s death due to the rapid upstaging of an undiagnosed uterine malignancy. (Case 4:14-cv-01074-JTM).

Alleged victims of uterine cancers that were spread via a power morcellator may be entitled to compensation for their injury-related damages. To learn more about filing a morcellator lawsuit, please visit Bernstein Liebhard LLPs website, or call the Firm directly for a free, no-obligation case review at 800-511-5092.

*http://www.wsj.com/articles/biggest-u-s-health-insurer-tightens-rules-on-hysterectomy-coverage-1424990877, February 26, 2015
**money.cnn.com/2015/02/27/news/companies/unitedhealth-hysterectomies/, CNN, February 27, 2015
***fda.gov/medicaldevices/safety/alertsandnotices/ucm393576.htm, FDA, April 17, 2014
****capbluecross.com/wps/wcm/connect/cbc-public/cbc/aboutus/press+room/news+releases/2014+news+releases/morcellatorcoveragediscontinued, Capital BlueCross, August 2014
**in.reuters.com/article/2014/08/02/highmark-procedure-idINL2N0Q80IY20140802, Reuters, August 3, 2014
***telegram.com/article/20140809/NEWS/308099942/0, Worcester Telegram, August 9, 2014

About Bernstein Liebhard LLP
Bernstein Liebhard LLP is a New York-based law firm exclusively representing injured persons in complex individual and class action lawsuits nationwide since 1993. As a national law firm, Bernstein Liebhard LLP possesses all of the legal and financial resources required to successfully challenge billion dollar pharmaceutical and medical device companies. As a result, our attorneys and legal staff have been able to recover more than $3 billion on behalf of our clients. The Firm has been named by The National Law Journal to the Plaintiffs Hot List, recognizing the top plaintiffs firms in the country, for the past 12 consecutive years. Bernstein Liebhard LLP is the only firm in the country to be named to this prestigious list every year since it was first published in 2003.

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New York, New York 10016

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. © 2015 Bernstein Liebhard LLP. The law firm responsible for this advertisement is Bernstein Liebhard LLP, 10 East 40th Street, New York, New York 10016, 800-511-5092. Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future matter.

Contact Information:
Sandy A. Liebhard, Esq.
Bernstein Liebhard LLP

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