Shameful behaviour of Irish clinic at centre of PIP implant scandal

The Irish Times has today reported that one of the small number of clinics in this country who saw fit to implant now-condemned Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) silicone breast implants in the women who availed of their cosmetic surgery services over the years failed to inform the affected women that they were implicated in the scandal surrounding these devices.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) has confirmed that the Harley Medical Group had assured the board that it had to written to patients who had received the implants on two separate occasions since a formal recall of the product was issued in March of 2010 after it transpired that they contained industrial-grade silicon containing potentially dangerous chemicals, which was originally intended for use in mattresses, rather than medical-grade silicon.

The fact that the clinic had not notified former patients came as no surprise to us as women who have been in contact with us confirmed that they had not been contacted by it and had only found out that they had received PIP implants after they had taken the initiative to contact the clinic themselves once they had seen media reports and became concerned.

This is truly shameful behaviour.  That the clinic saw fit to maximize its profits by using the cheapest available materials may well come back to haunt it irrespective of this most recent action.  However, in the event that any woman’s medical situation has been worsened due to a failure to notify them in a timely fashion that they had received the defective implants, there will be very serious questions to be answered.

In other developments, following a review of data of the failure rate of PIP breast implants in the UK, the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley concluded yesterday that women with the implants are not at risk and that there was no evidence to recommend routine removal.  The expert group behind the review agreed that there is no link between the implants and cancer, as was reported in France.

The UK’s position is the same as the IMB’s position in this country and is at variance with that of the French, German and Czech governments who are taking a more cautious approach.  They have said that all women who have PIP implants should have them removed.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) present position is that, although there is no evidence of associated health risks, many women may be anxious and should discuss their concerns with their doctor.

However, the UK Government has said that the five per cent of women who had their implants fitted on the NHS as part of breast reconstruction surgery will be able to have them removed and replaced free of charge if they wish.

Even if the Health Service Executive in this country were to adopt a similar stance it would have no relevance to the 1,500 Irish women affected, as they all had their surgeries carried out in private clinics.

However, quite properly, Mr Lansley went on to say that he expects private clinics in the UK to offer the same deal as the NHS has to anxious women who also wish to have their implants replaced.

All of the Irish clinics which used PIP implants should do likewise.  Apart altogether from the moral imperative on these clinics, they have a legal duty of care to provide proper follow-up support and aftercare to the patients on whom they have operated.

John McCarthy presently acts for clients nationwide in pursuing compensation for the injuries which they have sustained from defective medical devices.

If you have been affected by the PIP recall or you believe that you have been the victim of negligent cosmetic surgery and you would like to arrange a free initial consultation with John, feel free to call him on 023 883 3348 or email him at john@mccarthy.ie to discuss your case in complete confidence and without commitment.

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John specialises in personal injury and medical negligence claims. His practice focuses on high value compensation cases. He has extensive experience in this area of litigation for over 10 years. Read more