These Six Types of Medical Implant Devices Are the Most Dangerous
About one in 10 Americans have at least one medical device implanted in their body. And at the same time, medical device recalls reached their highest point over the last two years recently, up 34% from the first quarter of 2022. The system for pulling defective products off the market is clunky and ineffective, which means recalled devices are still being used by or implanted in patients. Between 2008 and 2018, more than 1.7 million injuries and nearly 83,000 deaths from faulty medical devices were reported to the FDA.
One of the largest personal injury verdicts awarded in 2020 was to a victim of a faulty medical device. Mary Bayes successfully sued Zimmer Biomet, alleging their metal-on-metal M2a Magnum hip implant causing multiple dislocations, numerous surgeries, and difficulty walking. A jury in Missouri awarded her and her husband $21 million following the trial. Mary’s legal team argued that Biomet should have known their M2a Magnum had defects because an earlier design implant, the M2a Taper, was already known to cause patient problems.
Which defective medical devices are the most dangerous?
A comprehensive joint investigation of the global medical devices industry that included the AP, NBC, and over 50 other media outlets recently attempted to uncover precisely how many Americans are affected by faulty medical devices. Reporters collected and analyzed millions of medical records, recall notices, and other product safety warnings, in addition to interviewing doctors, patients, researchers, and company whistleblowers.
The investigation found that most injuries come from six types of medical devices. Here are just a few examples of how notable defective medical devices can cause harm to patients:
- Knee and Hip Replacements – Clinical evidence continues to show that the design of some knee and hip replacement implants is seriously flawed. Newer metal-on-metal hip replacements have failed, causing caused a condition called metallosis. This severe condition created by metal leaking into the body can destroy muscles, tendons, and ligaments and harm the heart and lungs.
- Surgical Mesh Complications – Surgical mesh, composed of synthetic materials, is permanently implanted in patients to repair weak or damaged tissue. But certain procedures can cause life-changing health complications, including mesh erosion when the device migrates from its point of placement and cuts through the soft tissues of other organs. Depending on the placement of the mesh, complications can cause pain, internal bleeding, the fusion of organs, or nerve damage.
- Spinal Cord Stimulators – Spinal cord stimulators are small computers surgically wired into the spinal cord. They often treat chronic pain by sending electrical pulses to mask or interrupt nerve signals before they get to the brain. However, a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded the devices were no better than a placebo for treating some chronic pain. And many patients with failed spinal cord stimulators have been shocked or burned or have suffered spinal-cord nerve damage ranging from muscle weakness to paraplegia.
How you can protect yourself from the risk
These four tips from Consumer Reports can help protect you or your loved ones from the risk of defective medical devices:
- Consider the alternatives – If your doctor suggests an implant, simply ask what will happen if you don’t get it. Sometimes patients aren’t adequately informed about the options. For example, women who received transvaginal mesh for prolapse repair may not have needed surgery. But people ill enough to require an implantable defibrillator for their heart may not have a choice.
- Research the device – If you use any medical device, make sure it hasn’t been recalled. The Food and Drug Administration’s website, FDA.gov, contains information on device safety warnings, complaints, and recalls, all accessible by searching the device’s name. You can also search recalls by year. Also, search for patient forums and other information about the device online.
- Write down the details – Ask for your device’s brand name, model, and serial number (if applicable) so that if you learn of a warning or safety recall, you’ll know whether yours is one of the problem models.
- Don’t panic – If you discover problems with your device, don’t assume it has to be removed. Contact your doctor and learn to recognize possible adverse side effects in your case.
What to do if you’ve been affected by a faulty medical implant
You should know the realities and risks of medical devices before one is implanted in your body and what to do if you or someone you know is affected by a faulty device. Because defective products can slip through an otherwise outdated system putting patients at potential risk of serious injury or death, your best bet is to contact a personal injury lawyer if you’ve been affected. If you wish to discuss the specifics of your case in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury and product liability lawyer, please contact us today.