The 411 on Medical Device Failure

When you go to a hospital and a doctor prescribes treatment, you trust that your doctor has made the best possible medical decision on your behalf. After all, doctors have to go through rigorous schooling and pass a number of difficult tests. They also have to have on-the-job training for several years, so by the time you see them, they already have solid experience.

Additionally, you trust that the devices, medications, and procedures prescribed to you have undergone careful scientific testing to ensure they work properly. The people who designed them also had intense medical or engineering training, and the people who reviewed and tested them had similar schooling as well. So you don’t expect any medical device that enters your body to endanger it.

Sadly, sometimes medical devices and other treatments can cause more harm than good, leading to permanent injuries and even death. If you think you or a family member has suffered because of medical device failure, browse the information below to see if you have a claim.

Why Device Failure Occurs

Your medical devices may fail because of your doctor’s negligence or the manufacturer’s negligence. Common failure causes include:

Contamination
Contaminants like bacteria, viruses, toxic chemicals, allergens, bodily fluids, and more could enter the device at any time. They may enter during the manufacturing process, or they may come in contact with the device as your doctor handles it. Your doctor should wear clean gloves and sterilize the device before installing it, but that doesn’t always happen.

Stress Overload
Sometimes a high-pressure impact can break your device, causing it to fail. If you believe the device in question shouldn’t have broken under the circumstances, you can investigate the damage and see if it arose because of poor materials or poor manufacturing, which we’ll discuss below.

Improper Materials
In some cases, manufacturers or designers don’t test the material thoroughly enough, so while it may work well in theory, it doesn’t work well when introduced to the body. The body’s chemical makeup erodes it or rejects it, leading to serious medical complications.
Improper Molding
A few medical devices have components that require molding before installation. If the doctor or manufacturer doesn’t mold the device properly, the imprecise fit could lead to the device’s failure.

Improper Design or Manufacturing
You may have more trouble proving a manufacturing defect than a molding or material defect. Manufacturing defects occur when the device’s maker fails to weld or attach components properly, when components have microscopic holes or flaws that undermine the device’s usefulness, etc. Your attorney can tell you more about proving a manufacturing defect. What Devices Have Failed in the Past

In the past, consumers have filed claims for these major medical devices:
Defibrillators, or small electronic implants in a patient’s heart that use shocks to keep the pulse even
Joint implants that restore function to different disabled body parts, like hips or shoulders Stents, or tubes that fit into arteries and prevent blockage Contraceptive devices

Keep in mind that many consumers have used these devices without incident, so if you’ve used them as well, you don’t need to panic. However, you should ask your doctor about them to see if you need a checkup. If you catch the faulty device before it fails, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain and stress in the future.

For a list of current device recalls, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website
. If you’ve been prescribed a certain device or used it for many years, you can search the database to see if yours should cause you concern.

How You Can Legally Respond

If you or your family members have already suffered from medical device failure, you have the right to compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages reimburse you for all financial, physical, and emotional losses, while punitive damages punish the responsible parties for their negligence. However, before you can sue, you need to determine which party or parties caused the defect.

The fault may lie with the manufacturer, the testing laboratory, the hospital, or the doctor. It may also lie with the device’s marketer or retail supplier. Your attorney can help you investigate what went wrong and who caused the problem. He or she will also let you know if you have a viable case. You know you have a good case if you can prove the following:
You or a family member suffered an injury.
The medical device failed because of contamination, poor manufacturing or molding, or improper marketing. The medical device’s failure caused your injury.

Some medical device failure claims occur as class action lawsuits, which means that you join a group of people who had problems with the same device. You can join this lawsuit if you wish, and you may find it more convenient to do so. However, if you suffered different injuries or if you have special circumstances, you should probably file on your own.

For more advice on pursuing a medical device failure claim, contact a lawyer in your area and schedule a consultation.