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Medical Device Defects

In the era of modern medicine as our lives are extended more and more compared to the past, we increasingly depend on medical devices to make us well or improve our quality of life. As our joints wear out, we get our hips or knees replaced. If our heart doesn’t function the way it should, a mechanical pacemaker may help. People with diabetes who used to live dramatically shorter lives can function much better with the use of insulin pumps to regulate their blood sugar. Technology has changed the way many of us live, and the way health care is practiced.

But technology isn’t without risks or imperfections. When technology you depend on for your life is defective and fails, there may be serious consequences for your health. You may have to undergo painful and exhausting surgeries to replace the defective device or to correct the problems it causes in your body, or you may experience long-term disability or disfigurement. Some medical device failures may even be fatal.

When you’re injured because a medical device was defective, you may have a claim for compensation from the manufacturer, distributor, or seller. Through a product liability claim, you maybe able to recover payment of your medical costs, lost wages, disability and disfigurement, pain and suffering, and loss of normal life.

If you’re wondering whether you might have a claim against the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of a faulty medical device, an experienced product liability lawyer can help. A lawyer can discuss your options and the likelihood of success if you pursue a claim. If you decide to move forward, a lawyer can help you gather the proof you’ll need, negotiate an insurance settlement, or fight for a jury award in court.

Common Defective Medical Devices

The term “medical devices” includes a range of products that may be used in different ways, either internally such as a pacemaker or externally such as a crutch or a wheelchair. Medical devices generally are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which authorizes their use by medical care providers and patients. A medical device may be prescribed, or may be sold over the counter. To find out whether a particular device is FDA-approved or has been recalled due to safety issues, visit their website.

Medical devices that are commonly seen to have defects and that can cause serious injuries when they fail include:

  • Pacemakers — A pacemaker is a device used to treat heart conditions by using electrical stimulation to regulate the heartbeat. When a pacemaker is defective, the person may go into cardiac arrest.
  • Dialysis Machines — Dialysis machines are used to clean the blood of waste products when the kidneys can no longer adequately fulfill that function. When dialysis machines fail, a person may become very sick very quickly.
  • Defibrillators — Defibrillators use electric current to re-start the heart when it stops beating. When these devices fail, the person may die if his or her heart doesn’t re-start when needed.
  • Hip and Knee Implants — The hip and knee joints are crucial to a person’s ability to walk or stand. As a person ages, these joints can wear out and need to be replaced. If a replacement hip or knee implant is defective, the person may experience significant pain, an inability to walk or stand as normal, and the need for excruciating and expensive corrective surgeries.
  • Breast Implants — When breast implants are defective, they may leak into a person’s body cavity and cause a serious or life-threatening infection.
  • Transvaginal Mesh — This type of mesh is a plastic netting that is used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence in women. However, some mesh products have been linked to serious infections and painful organ perforations in women.
  • Insulin Pumps — Insulin pumps are used to regulate blood glucose in people with diabetes. When a pump fails and blood sugar goes unchecked, the person can experience serious health complications including coma.
  • Power Wheelchairs — When power wheelchairs are defective, they may cause fire or electrocution, or may be unstable and tip over. Injuries may include burns, head trauma, spinal cord injuries, or broken bones.

Liability for Defective Medical Devices

When medical devices are defective, the problem may have come from any of several points in the production process or the supply chain. The problem could be due to a faulty design or to flaws in the manufacturing process that mean the device doesn’t work the way it should, or is dangerous to use for its intended purpose. The defect also may be one of instructions or warnings — if the seller failed to include proper instructions for safe use of the device or to warn about potential unsafe uses, the seller may be liable for your resulting injuries.

A good Chicago personal injury lawyer with experience in handling product liability cases can help you figure out what happened, how the device failed, and who is responsible for the defect. Once the responsible party has been identified, your lawyer can help you get the compensation you and your family deserve.