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Who is legally responsible for PIP implant patients?

The quality of “suspiciously cheap” PIP breast implants should have been called into question by surgeons, according to a Merseyside solicitor who says patients relied on their doctors’ expertise.

As PIP, the manufacturer at the centre of the current health scare, has now gone into liquidation, deciding who is legally responsible for the aftercare of patients at risk of ruptured implants has become a matter of intense debate.

For patients who have recieved PIP implants, there is presently no evidence of toxicity or a link with cancer. But clients of Maxwell Hodge have reported leakage of silicone into lymph nodes, which they say causes pain and inflammation.

Those wishing to bring compensation claims against the clinics and doctors who performed their operation are told the implants were bought and used in good faith, and so they should not be held responsible.

Claire Fitzgerald, a solicitor at Maxwell Hodge, is representing clients affected by the implants and says pressure is mounting on the government to ensure clinics or surgeons take some responsibility.

She says: “The PIP implants were suspiciously cheap, and arguably should have led the surgeon or clinic to question their quality.  They are the ones in a position of responsibility, and the women affected put their trust in their surgeons and clinic staff as professionals. 

“Most of our clients knew very little, if anything at all, about implants before approaching the clinic, and understandably relied on those in the industry to provide accurate, meaningful and appropriate advice.”

Part of the problem taking clients’ cases forward is tracking down the people responsible for the operations in the first place. So-called “cut price” clinics, or places promoting “special offers” have been blamed for using PIPs in the main.

Claire adds: “The problem arising is that clinics and surgeons are quick to pass the blame to one another.  It seems some of the surgeons involved have left the country, and tracking them down is difficult. 

“It seems all too common with “cut price clinics” that surgeons are flown in from abroad to carry out the procedure, but unfortunately leave just as quickly. “

Other problems include the possibility that the surgeon may not necessarily be insured, or that some clinics have been shut down, rendering any action against them futile.

Maxwell Hodge says if women are concerned, their first port of call is their surgeon, and falling that their GP. Usually a rupture is quite obvious, leading to physical signs such as the implant becoming misshapen. 

The current government position is that the implants should not be removed if they have not ruptured, unlike French authorities who are advising removal regardless.

Maxwell Hodge is one of the region’s leading law firms operating from eight offices stretching from Formby to Wirral with a city centre office in the heart of Liverpool’s business district.

 

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