Unfortunately, defective products harm millions of people each year and cause thousands of deaths. When a faulty product is a medical device – something intended to save your life or drastically improve your quality of life – defectiveness is often more than just disappointing. It’s harmful.
Here’s what you should know about faulty medical devices and what steps you can take if you or a family member have been harmed by a defective device.
What Makes a Medical Device Defective?
Generally, a medical device can be deemed defective in one of three ways.
Design defects occur when a device is made as intended, yet it is considered unsafe due to its inherent design. Since medical devices go through such a stringent process to be certified as a medical device in the first place, it’s unlikely rare that they are defective due to flawed design.
A manufacturing defect happens when a medical device is made in a manner that differs from the design specifications, resulting in the device failing to work as expected and causing injury. This is the category that the majority of defective medical devices fall into.
A marketing defect is typically described as a flaw in the product’s advertising or usage instructions. An example of a medical device becoming defective due to its marketing might be if a manufacturer did not alert healthcare providers and patients of hidden risks involved with a particular hip replacement device.
In the above case of false advertising, a treatment provider is unable to appropriately educate the patient about potential risks and complications associated with using the device, and the patient is unable to make an informed decision about whether or not the device is the best choice for their needs.
Examples of Defective Medical Devices
Any medical device can be inherently defective or become faulty in a number of different ways. It happens too often, however, product recalls are usually issued and damage control is done before the matter gets too much media attention.
Here are some of the most common examples of defective medical devices:
- Transvaginal mesh surgical patches
- Other types of hernia repair mesh
- Metal hip replacements
- Guidant & Medtronic defibrillators (two brands of pacemakers)
- Da Vinci Robots (a device used by surgeons to perform laparoscopic surgical procedures)
- IVC Blood Clot Filters
- DePuy Hip Implants
- Essure (a type of implantable permanent birth control)
- Mirena and ParaGard Intrauterine Devices (IUD) (two types of implantable, removable birth control)
- Sulzer knee replacement
- Dialysis filters
- Pain pumps
- Certain types of coronary stents coated in dangerous medications
Is a Medical Product Liability Case the Same as a Malpractice Case?
No. While there are some overlaps between medical product liability cases and medical malpractice cases, they are not the same thing. A defective medical device case is taken up with the designer or manufacturer of the product, while a malpractice case is typically taken up with a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional.
If your medical device is faulty and your doctor knew about it, you could have both types of cases. However, it’s important to understand that these cases are separate even though they may run parallel to each other.
What to Do If You Have a Faulty Medical Device
If your medical device has failed or otherwise become defective, what you do next typically depends on the type of device it is. If the device is something you use externally that does not deliver critical, lifesaving care, you may be able to simply stop using it if your doctor gives you the go-ahead.
However, if your medical device is something like a pacemaker or hip replacement that is inside of your body, the process becomes much more complicated. Consult your physician immediately if you believe your internal medical device is faulty or go to the nearest emergency room.
If your device is a pacemaker or another device that if not working properly could result in your death, it’s crucial that you obtain emergency medical care as quickly as possible. Do not attempt to remove it or discontinue using it. Your physician should always supervise any change in the medical device(s) you use.
If possible, keep your defective medical device. If physicians have had to remove and replace it at the hospital, be as clear as possible that you own the defective device and you would like to keep it. Proving your product liability case is often much more difficult if you don’t actually have the product in question to demonstrate. Regardless, in emergency situations, it may not be feasible to communicate this and obtain the faulty device before its discarded.
When to Call a New Hampshire or Massachusetts Product Liability Attorney
If you or a family member has been harmed in some way by a medical device you believe was defective, it’s important that you don’t wait to contact a New Hampshire or Massachusetts product liability attorney.
At Mazow, McCullough, PC, we’re dedicated to numerous consumer protection initiatives to help citizens of our communities recover after being victimized by defective medical devices and other types of consumer harm.
Contact us today for a consultation to speak about your case in detail and to learn more about what your legal options may be. We can be reached locally at (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084. Our team is standing by now to assist you.
Disclaimer: The above is not a substitute for medical advice. Do not discontinue or remove any medical device without the help of a qualified physician. If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 or go to the hospital or an urgent care clinic near you.