October 1, 2011

Circumcision Error Results in Disfigured Genitalia

by Levin & Perconti

According to the Center for Disease Control, approximately 56% of boys born in the United States are circumcised in hospitals. Of those circumcisions, a significant percentage are performed with a device known as a Mogen Clamp.

Because it’s such a common practice, a California woman didn’t think she was putting her week-old son in danger when she took him to a Los Angeles doctor for circumcision. According to the LA Times, during the procedure, the doctor cut off most of the tip of her son’s penis.

The California woman filed a both medical malpractice lawsuit against the physician and a products liability claim against the distributer of the medical device that harmed her son. Although the lawsuit against the doctor was dismissed, the distribution company, Miltex Inc. and its parent company, Integra Life Sciences Holding Corp. have finally agreed to a settlement; almost 8 years later, the woman has obtained a $4.6 million settlement as a result of the medical equipment’s failure.

Nevertheless, despite the success of her lawsuit, the victim’s mother is still intent that the medical community take further steps to prevent errors during circumcisions, especially when the procedure involves a Mogen Clamp.

The LA Times reports that the Mogen clamp derives its name from the Hebrew word "magain," or shield. Invented in 1954, the Mogen clamp has been used continuously since its creation. During the procedure, the doctor first loosens the foreskin, then pulls it through the Mogen clamp, where it is clipped off with a single cut. Unfortunately, in this situation, the doctor improperly set the clamp, and the boy’s genitals were mutilated.

Recently, Mogen clamps have come under scrutiny because of numerous reports in which infants were injured by the Mogen clamp. In fact, in August of 2000, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a public health warning about Mogen clamps after receiving approximately twenty injury reports a year since 1996, including lacerations, hemorrhaging, penile amputation and urethral damage.

Nevertheless, Mogen clamps have not been recalled from the market. Instead, the FDA has set guidelines to help doctors ensure that they are using the correct size of clamp, and performing the procedure properly. According to studies cited in the April issue of the Journal of Family Practice, with the Mogen clamp, a circumcision requires just one cut and is over in minutes whereas with other appliances, doctors must make multiple incisions, which takes more time and causes more pain. According to Dr. David Tomlinson the World Health Organization's chief expert on circumcision, about 10% to 20% of doctors still use the Mogen clamp

Because of the damage and disfigurement resulting from the physician’s use of the Mogen clamp, the boy has since had two reconstructive surgeries, and will likely need at least two more whilst in his teens and twenties to repair the physical damage. He will also likely need plastic surgery to fix the disfigurement. The proceeds of the product liability settlement will assist in paying for the costs of his future medical expenses.

Miltex, the manufacturer and distributer of the Mogen clamp has also reached settlements with the families of other victims, including a case last year in which a New York judge awarded $10.8 million in damages to the infant’s family. Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys have the experience, diligence, and understanding to guide you through the litigation process. If you or a loved one have suffered as a result of a doctor’s negligence, or the failure of medical equipment, an attorney may be able to advise you of your rights.