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Faulty breast implants: worried patients hound hospitals with inquiries

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Summary of story from The Guardian, January 20, 2012

In response to the recent breast implant scandal (see WVoN story) hospitals in the UK are facing a flood of inquiries from patients concerned that they may have been given faulty products.

The phone calls started in December and became so numerous that phone lines have been set up in many hospitals and clinics to deal with the inquiries.

Many of the women are frightened and, although some of them are aware that they have not been fitted with the dangerous PIP prostheses, the fear of something going wrong takes over.

“There is just a huge amount of anxiety for any woman who has had implants,” said Julia Salmon, the director of Spire Healthcare in Harpenden.

Surgeons worry that breast augmentation surgery has been “trivialised” and that the regulatory framework that certified PIP devices as safe was not rigorous enough because of this trivialisation.

Public hospitals are also experiencing the knock-on effect of the PIP crisis as a wave of female patients begin panicking about their breast implants.

Sue Barter, consultant radiologist at the Cambridge breast unit at Addenbrooke’s hospital, is worried by the lack of information that is instilled in patients when their implants are put in.

“Implant failure is a fact,” Barter says, and she asserts that many – not just PIP – will rupture or leak after about 10 years.

“But this is often not explained to the women when they are put in. And really, there is an ongoing duty of care. These women may well need updating later in life.”

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