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Hernia repair surgeries are one of the most common surgeries performed in the United States, in fact every year approximately a half million surgical repairs are performed. If you had a product implanted to repair the hernia, it is important to understand certain fundamentals about your hernia repair surgery to determine whether you may have a lawsuit.

What is a hernia? A hernia occurs when inner layers of a muscle become weakened and the underlying lining bulges through the weakened forming a sac. There are several types of hernias:

  • Abdominal or ventral hernia: occur in the abdominal wall
  • Incisional hernia: occur at an incision site from a previous surgery or injury
  • Inguinal hernia: occur in the groin area
  • Umbilical hernia: occur in or around the navel
  • Hiatal hernia: generally occur where the esophagus meets the stomach.

What products are used to surgically repair hernias? Hernias are repaired using various methods such as sutures, synthetic mesh, and biologic grafts. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different products used to repair hernias. Companies such as Ethicon, Davol, Gore Medical, and others each have a variety of products used for hernia repair surgery.

Hernia repair products can generally be divided into two categories: synthetic and biologic. Synthetic meshes are made of man-made materials, such as polyprolylene, ePTFE, composite mesh, or polyester fibers. Biologic implants are derived from donated human or animal dermis. Biologics are also referred to as human tissue implants, cadaver skin, pig skin, or porcine.

How do I know if I have a claim against the manufactures of my hernia implant? In other words, how do you know if the manufacturer of your mesh is responsible for your injury? Like with any medical operation, hernia repair surgeries are not guaranteed fixes, however, if a product is defective and caused you an injury, you may have a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer.

The Product. As with any surgery, it is important that you find out what product you have implanted during your surgery. It is especially critical to know what kind of product was implanted to repair your hernia in assessing a potential hernia repair lawsuit. Contact your doctor or surgeon’s office, or the medical records department of your hospital to obtain a copy of your operative report or any other medical document that provides product identification of your hernia mesh or patch. The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is a governmental agency that can issue warnings or recalls when a product is defective. In order for you to know whether a warning or recall affects you, you must know what type of product you have implanted.

The Injury. After you’ve establish what kind of product you have implanted, it is important that a doctor or surgeon has diagnosed an injury. I will discuss the types of injuries in another posting.

Whether a defect in the product caused the link. Lastly, after you establish the product and an injury, you must be able to show that a defect in the product caused your injury. For instance, let’s say you have MESH XX implanted to repair an incisional hernia right next to your belly button. You’re on vacation sun-tanning and as you try to move your heavy wooden beach chair, you feel a pop in your groin. The doctor reports the bad news that you have an inguinal hernia. Here, the mere fact that you suffered an injury in totally unrelated to the fact that you had a mesh implanted to repair your incisional hernia. This of course is an extreme example but the formula remains simple: Product + Defect = (must CAUSE) the Injury.

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