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How Do You Know When a Medical Device is Defective?

Defective medical devices can put people’s health and lives at risk, a danger that is compounded by the fact that defects and their health effects are not always immediately apparent. This nationwide problem has cost Medicaid and patients billions of dollars for surgeries to replace defective devices and has caused the FDA to require unique device identifiers to make them easier to track.

These are examples of medical devices that have been proven to be prone to defects:

  • Metal hip replacement parts may chafe each other, releasing bits of metal into the body, causing swelling, severe pain and blood poisoning
  • Drug-coated stents inserted into blood vessels may cause blood clotting
  • Inferior vena cava (IVC) blood clot filters, designed to alleviating the risks of clotting, may become dislodged and travel through the blood system, perforating vital organs as they go
  • Guidant implantable defibrillators, designed to administer electric shocks to the heart to restore a normal rhythm, may actually have the opposite effect
  • Transvaginal mesh, a patch intended to strengthen the vaginal wall, can erode and perforate nearby organs, causing serious infections and other dangerous complications
  • Da Vinci surgical robots have malfunctioned during operations, causing perforations, infections and electric burns

These problems may lead to long-term adverse health complications and even death and fixing them requires additional surgeries.

How do you recognize when you are the victim of a defective medical device? First, understand what medical devices have been implanted and the potential health dangers they pose if they break or malfunction. Your doctor should have advised you of these risks before implanting them, unless they weren’t known at the time. A medical checkup is a good time to ask the doctor about potential problems with any medical devices you already have or might be getting.

You might also want to do some research on your own. However, keep in mind that there is considerable misinformation about medical subjects on the internet, so you should consult an authoritative source, such as an academic or not-for-profit website.

You should also watch out for any sudden or growing medical problems, considering that the medical device might operate for months or years before malfunctioning. Although most of these defects will cause noticeable problems near the device, that isn’t a certainty. For instance, IVC blood clot filters can perforate tissue and organs in other parts of the body.

You should report any serious and otherwise unexplained health condition that might be related to a medical device to your doctor. If the physician you are consulting installed the device, you might also want a second opinion.

The attorneys of Lyons & Lyons, in San Antonio, Texas are experienced in representing patients injured by defective medical devices. For more information or to discuss whether you have a potential lawsuit, call us at 210-225-5251 or contact us online.

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