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Are surgical staplers dangerous?

If you suffered an injury during or after surgery, you may feel certain that the doctor should shoulder the blame. This may very well prove true, but surgical staplers may also have a role to play. The devices have a history of malfunctioning and the FDA reviewed them in 2019. The findings were disheartening. 

WebMD reports that as many as two-thirds of doctors report malfunctions with surgical staplers. Yet, when one doctor reviewed the FDA’s database, he found nothing. He later discovered that the FDA allowed stapler manufacturers to quietly file malfunction information in a separate database. 

Why do surgeons need staplers?

If staplers are so dangerous, you may wonder why surgeons bother using them. Because the FDA kept this information private for so long, many doctors did not know this surgical tool posed risks. As a result, they continue to use it to cut vessels and seal them quickly. This works faster than stitches to heal a wound and prevent patients from losing a lot of blood. 

What went wrong?

Surgeons who reported issues with the staplers did not always go into detail. Most simply said it malfunctioned. Some claimed the device misfired. Other claims include descriptions of the device locking up. The more deadly cases involve instances where the instrument failed to reseal the blood vessel. 

Medical professionals believe that the FDA needs to make the information regarding staples public. However, it may take up to two years for records to become released. In the meantime, many medical professionals continue to call it a “coverup.” 

The numbers seem to imply this. While 84 cases of stapler malfunctions or related injuries made it to the public database in 2016, roughly 10,000 cases allegedly remained hidden from the public. 

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