Deceased JNJ Mesh Victim, Joan Budke, Gets Her Day In Court
January 12, 2015
Joan Budke at the recommendation of her Gynecologist Dr. Becky Simpson, had surgery for the treatment of incontinence (leakage of urine from the bladder). Incontinence is very common in women especially after having children. And if you think this is a problem that doesn’t affect you-think again.
According the to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States the cost of bladder incontinence among adults in 2000 was estimated at $19.5 billion with $14.2 billion incurred by the community.
Sadly for women it’s a matter of “when” and not “if” this happens to their bodies and the onset of age only exacerbates this growing and widely under-recognized problem. Embarrassment coupled with the age of patients (not a generation to air their dirty laundry on Facebook) force many women to suffer in silence. (Kimberly-Clark really should do an ad campaign for their Depend products using mesh victims)
Joan Budke, for her incontinence problem, was operated on by her doctor Becky Smith who decided to implant Budke with Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon’s Gynecare’s Prolift (polypropylene mesh) and TVT-Secur transvaginal sling mesh. These procedures are often done in tandem to strengthen the weakened muscle while simultaneously lifting the bladder.
Skilled surgeons previously opting for using the patient’s own tissue and muscle for the repair which is the surgical “gold standard,” and much more difficult and time consuming*. This is not always possible as the patient’s tissue and muscle may be too eroded. The development of medical devices for these procedures in particular were meant to help these skilled surgeons in the rare occasion they could not use that patient’s natural tissue and muscle to strengthen and lift to have an alternative in the operating room.
*Hospitals often very unfairly punish a surgeon taking more time than allotted for a procedure citing it throws off the schedule (which it does) but every case is unique and should be viewed as such. I’ve witnessed countless times the Circulating Nurse complaining loudly that the case is “taking too much time,” or the OR desk will call into the OR room while a surgeon is working on a patient and ask for updates on “how much longer are you going to be in there?” Yes, some of this is just good communication for creating improved work flow but much of it is impatient OR staff who has lost sight of why they’re there in the first place or hospital administration trying to cut down on costs by rushing a case along.
However the development of medical devices to aid the skilled surgeons opened up a new market that companies were all too willing to exploit. Lesser skilled surgeons who seldom if ever did traditional bladder sling procedures were now given a false skill set based off of the technology which aggressively allowed them to peruse a previously “untapped market.” This is in part why there are so many cases currently in federal court. This is a link that cannot be ignored in these cases
August 2009, Joan Budke died at 77 the cause of death is listed as pulmonary mass with secondary cause of pelvic mesh infection. Joan Budke’s husband Donald Budke filed suit against Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Gynecare for product liability as well as the surgeon, Dr. Becky Simpson for malpractice. Too many of these cases are missing the opportunity to force accountability from all responsible parties.
We’ll start to see a lot of blame shifting but the fact of the matter is that many of these surgeons should never have been trained on these procedures in the first place; and, surgeons are also responsible for knowing their skill level.
NOTE TO ATTORNEYS: Hospitals keep records of every procedure done and broken down by surgeon. Have the hospital(s) of the surgeon in question run reports based off of procedure codes for bladder repair and bladder sling surgeries. Was this surgeon doing traditional surgery before the introduction of devices? Or since the introduction of devices how many traditional cases has the surgeon performed or were those referred out to another surgeon? This information call help a patient turned victim prove not only the company but the surgeon was responsible. Not every surgeon is meant to or capable of doing every procedure.
And put the torches down before anyone runs off yelling at surgeons for being greedy because let’s remember there’s always a company willing to exploit others for profit that’s largely responsible. In this case it’s:
Johnson & Johnson (Alex Gorsky CEO) Ethicon (Worldwide President Gary Pruden) and Gynecare (Bridget Ross-at the time) and all should all be personally named even though they’ll be “covered” under the company-this helps in creating forced accountability and expose all those involved and could possible aid in removing them from the company. Remember these are the same three executives involved in the Johnson & Johnson Janssen Risperdal case that cost the company $2.2 billion in federal fines and 31 families their loved ones.
And not until people lower on the company food chain are named in these cases and forced to take accountability like Johnson & Johnson’s spokeswoman, Sheri Woodruff, who famously quotes that their mesh is “considered by many to be the gold standard” will we see change in the industry.
I’m sure Mrs. Budke never expected when she had a private conversation with her doctor that her private information would one day be dissected by defense attorneys who will demean and insult her or that she wouldn’t be here to defend herself. And I’m sure Mrs. Budke was too much of a lady to say what I’m about to-but Johnson & Johnson’s executives and public relations team Mrs. Budke from beyond the grave is tightening her hold around Johnson & Johnson’s pelvic region.
To follow the day to day details of Joan Budke’s case (or any of the other now 30,000 mesh cases or hip cases) head over to Mesh Medical Device News Desk and please donate what you can to help those who cover the trials as main stream media does not want to bite the hand that feeds them.