We have all experienced equipment malfunctions of some kind. If it is your TV or computer that has a defective part, it can be a real annoyance. However, if medicine or medical equipment is defective, it can result in a serious injury, or even death. Medical devices and pharmaceuticals are big business.
In a factory that produces medicine or devices, there are bound to be some defects when thousands of units go out the door every day. Companies are supposed to catch the defects before they go out to the unsuspecting public, but they may miss some. In the worst case scenario, some manufacturers may be looking to cut corners in order to increase profits, and as a result, they give consumers a defective product. Thousands of people are injured or killed every year by defective medicine and equipment, and those responsible should be held liable.
When prescription or over-the-counter medication is defective, it can cause physical or other injuries. The defects are not limited to the drugs themselves, but improper labeling and warnings can also be a defect that causes injury or death. If the warning doesn't appropriately convey the dangers of a drug, a patient may not be aware of the risks they are taking when they take a certain medication.
We like to believe that when a drug is approved by the FDA, that it is safe to use. However, that is not always the case. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regularly recalls medications that were previously approved. They even have different types of recall categories, depending on the reason for the recall.
A Class I recall involves a reasonable probability that the use or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death. A Class II recall involves a situation where exposure may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences, or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences are remote.
You would expect drug recalls to be relatively uncommon, but the FDA website has recall updates several times a month. Recalls take place for all sorts of reasons, including:
- containing particulate matter
- containing undeclared drug ingredients
- leaking containers
- mold contamination
- unsterile products
- incorrect labeling
- microbial contamination
- high levels of impurities
- unapproved drugs
- empty capsules
Many recalled drugs become the subject of lawsuits related to injuries or death. These drugs can be responsible for and increased risk in:
- bladder cancer
- heart disease
- uncontrolled bleeding
- tendon rupture
- heart problems
- sexual disfunction
- birth defects
- liver disease
- and other injuries, including death.
Any variety of drug defects could cause injury to a person who is unaware of the defective drug. In addition, the FDA drug recalls only account for drug defects that the FDA is aware of. Drug and medicine defects can go on for years before anyone realizes there is a problem. Unfortunately, defective drugs are not uncommon, and the number may be growing every year. In 2004, there were about 160 FDA drug recalls. By 2014, that number went up to over 1,300.
Defective Medical Equipment
It is not only drugs and medications that can be defective, but medical equipment can also be subject to defects responsible for injury or death. This includes devices like artificial heart valves, pacemakers, breast implants, transvaginal mesh, pain pumps, dialysis machines, hip replacements, knee replacements, catheters, and other products.
As with defective medications, defects can be due to manufacturing defects, design defects, improper labeling and improper warnings. The FDA issues hundreds of medical device recalls on a variety of medical equipment. Sometimes, these defects in the product itself can result in injury to the patient. Other times, a product may be released without patients being aware that it carries a higher risk for injury than is suggested.
Medical equipment is a multi-billion dollar industry. Looking to increase profits, some companies are in the rush to get their products on the market. In doing so, they may develop products that will break down over time, fail to work as advertised, and carry an improper warning label. This can put the patient at risk for injury or death. Those responsible for a defective product need to be held responsible for the pain they cause to patients and their loved-ones.
Unfortunately, because of how big the medical industry is, a new product could be used or implanted in thousands of patients before the doctors, patients or FDA realize that the product was defective. This was the case for people who got a hip or knee implant and later found out the product that was surgically implanted in their body was defective. The same has occurred with patients who received a pacemaker. After learning of the defect, they had to make the decision of whether to undergo a dangerous surgery, or just hope that the defective product will keep their heart beating.
Discovering Defective Medicine or Equipment
It may be difficult to know when a medication or piece of medical equipment is defective. It may take time before the public even becomes aware of defective medications. Even if a drug is later recalled, it may not be clear to a person who took that drug whether they may have been injured. A thorough review of a patient's medical records, FDA alerts, and relevant medical studies by medical experts may help discover the injuries related to a medicine or equipment defect.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be the victim of a defective medicine or a defective medical device, you should seek medical care and the counsel of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. If you have any questions about a drug defect weeks or even years after an event, you may still able to bring a claim for damages. The statute of limitations gives the victim of defective medicine or medical equipment a certain amount of time after the incident or injury was discovered.
The effects of defective medicine or medical equipment can be devastating for a patient and their family. Medication defects can result in permanent injury, or even death. The process of healing can impose a significant financial burden on individuals and their families. The Gilman & Bedigian team is fully equipped to handle the complex process of bringing a malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting you the compensation you deserve, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.