UPDATE: Defective medical devices continue to affect many patients in the United States, and hundreds of products are recalled each year because they present safety issues. Some types of medical products that have caused injuries to patients in recent years include:
- Artificial joints - Some hip replacements or other joint replacements have used metal-on-metal components. The regular friction that occurs when a person moves these joints may cause these components to break down. When this happens, metal fragments may enter a person's bloodstream and perforate blood vessels or internal organs. Metal components may also corrode, leading to dangerous infections or the release of toxic substances into a person's body.
- Blood clot filters - These small metal devices have been used to stop blood clots from causing damage to the lungs or brain. However, they have been found to break down, causing sharp metal fragments to travel through the bloodstream, which may lead to organ injuries or dangerous internal bleeding.
- Warming blankets - Heated blankets are sometimes used during surgery to help a patient maintain their body temperature. Some blankets circulate warm air, but this has been found to increase the risks of infection due to the spreading of harmful viruses or bacteria.
When patients are injured or killed by defective medical products, the manufacturer of a dangerous device should be held responsible. A skilled Aurora product liability lawyer can help victims and their families determine their best options for pursuing financial compensation for injuries or the loss of a loved one.
When a person is injured, ill, or otherwise in need of medical care, he or she expect that the equipment used to treat them is reasonably safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. In fact, the number of defective medical device recalls has risen sharply over the last several years. Even more concerning is the risk that those defective devices pose to the general public: an undisclosed, often unpredictable risk of serious injury and/or wrongful death.
A Concerning Increase in Defective Medical Device Recalls
In 2006, the medical device manufacturing industry paid for a study that concluded that serious device-related safety problems are “extremely rare.” Of course, as with most self-funded studies, the findings may have been more than a little myopic. Reports from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show just how flawed the study may have been. Each year, the FDA receives more than 200,000 reports of defective medical devices. Even more concerning is that things are only getting worse. An FDA analysis found that, from 2007 to 2011, the recalls of moderate- to high-risk devices more than doubled.
Significance of the Impact on Human Lives
When looking at statistics from the FDA, it is clear to see that defective medical devices are slipping through the cracks and harming patients. In fact, the FDA claims that more than 2,000 patients die each year from defective medical devices alone. Furthermore, there are numerous real life examples of devices that have caused great harm to patients. Even more concerning is that some of these devices not only failed but the manufacturer refused to recall them despite having knowledge that the device could put patients at risk.
For example, Baxter intravenous infusion pumps, which are designed to deliver controlled amounts of fluids to patients (i.e. medication, nutrients, and fluids) were found to unexpectedly shut down or dispense the wrong amount of medication. Rather than recall the devices immediately, the manufacturer sent only a warning to physicians. It was not until after four deaths and 10 serious injuries that the pumps were pulled from the market.
Wrongful Death Because of a Defective Medical Device? Know Your Rights
If there is any sector in which a defective device is inexcusable, it is in the medical industry. Doctors are supposed to save lives, and the tools and equipment they use should be held to the same (if not greater) standard that patients impose on their physicians. Products should be thoroughly and rigorously tested before being used in hospitals and clinics and, in the off-chance that a dangerous product reaches the market, it should be immediately recalled before it has the chance to do harm.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. These defective devices are leaving unsuspecting families grief-stricken because of the death of a loved one. Monetary compensation, though it may be owed, cannot ever begin to replace all that they have lost. However, it can cover the expenses incurred, help support a family after the loss of an income, and potentially reduce the overall impact that the loss of a loved one can have on the family’s long-term financial standing. It is not enough, but it is a form of justice.
At Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur, P.C., we help the families of victims seek the justice and compensation that is owed. Compassionate, dedicated, and sensitive to all that you have lost, we can represent you and your loved one in your defective medical device case. To learn more, contact an experienced Kane County product liability attorney today. Call 630-907-0909 for a free consultation.