Medical Malpractice Atlanta, Georgia

Are Hospitals or Medical Device Manufacturers Responsible for Misused or Malfunctioning Devices?

You may have seen law firm commercials on television about malfunctioning hip implants or IUD injuries and the possibility that people who suffer from those failures can receive compensation. Maybe you or a loved one have dealt with a malfunctioning medical device and have struggled, often painfully, to live with the consequences.
We put a great deal of faith in the healthcare community. In many cases that faith is justified, but in some cases that faith is misplaced. You may even be surprised at how often medical mistakes or inadequate care results in injuries, complications or death.

It’s not always a doctor or nurse’s fault that an injury happens. Sometimes medical complications are rooted in the quality of the medical devices they use.

Why do these failures happen? Who holds device manufacturers responsible? What should you do if you find yourself to be a victim of a malfunctioning device? Here are some answers that may help:

Do You Have a Medical Device Case?

It’s important to make a distinction between an unexpected device failure and normal device life expectancy. Hip or knee implants, for example, are generally expected to last a couple of decades. If someone in their 50s or 60s gets a hip implant, it’s possible that they will need the implant replaced in their 70s or 80s. IUDs last anywhere from 3 to 7 years before needing to be replaced, depending on the type and manufacturer. Device manufacturers and surgeons are usually upfront about life expectancy for those devices. Those time frames are usually readily available on manufacturer websites, so it’s difficult for patients to win cases claiming they were never told about a device’s longevity.

When there are large class action lawsuits against device manufacturers, it’s often due to a specific negative result that has affected hundreds or thousands of patients. Bayer Healthcare has faced thousands of lawsuits related to different versions of their Mirena IUD (intrauterine device). Those lawsuits were usually related to injuries caused by
organ perforation, device migration, bleeding complications or ectopic pregnancy. More than 1,200 of the cases relating to the MDLF 2434 model were dismissed, and Bayer settled the remainder for $12.2 million. There are still thousands of pending cases for the Mirena MDL 2767 and MDL 297 devices. A lot of those cases weren’t viable in large part due to small print. If someone is injured by a known complication, and they were warned about the potential for the complication, it significantly weakens their position in court. The injured patient may still be able to win in some circumstances, like if their doctor or the manufacturer didn’t adequately explain the
warning in terms the patient could understand, but those cases are difficult to win.

People injured by devices tend to have a better chance of winning in court if there was no warning about the complication and they were led to believe the complication they suffered wouldn’t happen. Defective hip implants are another commonly problematic medical device. There have been some models of hip implants that were either poorly tested or made with substandard materials, which led to many patients suffering complications from metal shavings or other foreign matter flaking off the implant. In those cases, the patient wasn’t warned that, “this implant may have been manufactured with inferior materials or processes so you might suffer metal poisoning from shavings in your body.” Rather, those patients were led to believe the implant would be a sturdy piece of medical equipment that would eventually need to be replaced. In that scenario, the manufacturer can’t really use the defense that a defect in the device was a known potential side effect of the surgery.

Are Doctors Liable for These Injuries?

In some cases yes, in other cases no. If a woman’s IUD perforates her organs because her IUD was improperly placed, not because of any defects in the IUD, her doctor would be liable. If an orthopedic surgeon unknowingly places a defective replacement hip, then the doctor wouldn’t be responsible.

Things can get murkier if the doctor knew the device had a history of defects, or if they knew a lot of patients suffered negative complications but didn’t adequately warn the patient prior to implanting the device.

Get Help If You’ve Been Injured by a Medical Device

Every day thousands of people suffer negative side effects from medication or medical devices. In some cases that personal tragedy could lead to a legitimate medical malpractice or product liability case.

It’s not always easy for patients to tell whether they have a case until they speak with a personal injury attorney. A lawyer who specializes in personal injury can listen to your situation and help you understand what options you have for compensation.

If you have questions, call the Law Office of Johnny Phillips at 833-564-6693 for a free case evaluation. If severe damage like a skull fracture or significant brain trauma is suspected, the doctor may order imaging tests like CT scans (Computed Tomography scans), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and X-rays.

Doctors try to avoid imaging tests when possible because CT scans and X-rays expose patients to radiation, which can be harmful. MRI testing doesn’t utilize radiation, but it is the more expensive option. After a patient is diagnosed, they usually spend a night in the hospital, where they are observed for worsening symptoms.

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