Defective Medical Devices
At The McClellan Law Firm, our experience and skill with the litigation of complex product liability claims go far beyond cases involving unsafe motor vehicles or defective automotive components. We also help clients collect compensation for severe or fatal injuries resulting from dangerous or defective medical devices.
Our San Diego defective medical device lawyer have been recognized for our product liability know-how. In fact, the firm's founding attorney, Craig McClellan, was named San Diego Best Lawyers Product Liability Litigation Lawyer of the Year in 2012, 2014 & 2019.
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What is a Defective Medical Device?
A defective medical device refers to any medical product, equipment, or implant that fails to perform as intended or poses an unreasonable risk of harm to patients when used according to its instructions. Defective medical devices can result from design flaws, manufacturing errors, inadequate testing, or a combination of these factors.
Common types of defective medical devices include:
- Intravenous (IV) Units: Devices used for intravenous administration of fluids, medications, or blood products.
- Stents: Small tube-like devices inserted into arteries or other vessels to keep them open and improve blood flow.
- Pumps: Medical pumps deliver fluids, medications, or nutrients to patients, and defects can lead to improper dosages or administration.
- Heart Valves: Prosthetic devices used to replace damaged or diseased heart valves.
- Pacemakers: Implantable devices that regulate the heart's rhythm by sending electrical impulses to the heart muscles.
- Dialysis Machines: Equipment used to filter and purify the blood in patients with kidney failure.
- Surgical Screws or Plates: Implants used to stabilize fractured bones or provide support during orthopedic surgeries.
- Intrauterine Devices (IUDs): Contraceptive devices placed in the uterus to prevent pregnancy.
- Surgical, Prosthetic, or Cosmetic Implants: Various implants used in surgical procedures, including those for joint replacement, breast augmentation, or reconstructive surgery.
- Joint Prostheses (e.g., DePuy Hip Replacements): Artificial joints used to replace damaged or arthritic joints, such as hip or knee replacements.
When such issues arise, patients may experience serious health complications, and in some cases, legal action may be taken against the manufacturers or distributors.
Holding Medical Device Manufacturers Responsible
In California, liability for a defective medical device can extend to various parties involved in the manufacturing, distribution, and sale of the product.
The potential defendants in a defective medical device case may include:
- Manufacturers: The primary responsibility often lies with the manufacturer of the medical device. This includes the company that designed, produced, and marketed the device. Liability may be based on defects in design, manufacturing errors, or failures to provide adequate warnings or instructions.
- Distributors and Retailers: Entities involved in the distribution and sale of the defective medical device, such as wholesalers, distributors, and retail sellers, may also be held liable. Distributors and retailers have a duty to ensure that the products they handle are safe for use and may be liable if they were aware of defects or failed to take reasonable steps to identify and address them.
- Designers and Engineers: Individuals or firms responsible for designing the medical device may be held liable if design defects contribute to the device's failure and cause harm to users.
- Testing Laboratories: If an independent testing laboratory was involved in testing the medical device and failed to identify potential risks or defects, they may be held liable for negligence.
- Marketing and Advertising Agencies: Entities responsible for the marketing and advertising of the medical device may be held liable if they provide misleading information, fail to adequately warn about risks, or engage in deceptive practices.
- Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities: In some cases, hospitals or healthcare facilities may be held liable if they knew or should have known about the defects in a medical device but continued to use it.
- Healthcare Professionals: Healthcare professionals who prescribe or administer a defective medical device may also face liability if they were aware or should have been aware of potential risks associated with the device.
- Component Manufacturers: If the medical device incorporates components manufactured by different entities, the manufacturer of a defective component may also be held liable.
California follows the legal doctrine of strict product liability, which means that plaintiffs may be able to hold any party in the chain of distribution accountable for injuries caused by a defective medical device without having to prove negligence. This includes cases where the manufacturer or distributor may not have been directly aware of the specific defect.
With over 40 years of experience, our attorneys know how to work with experts for the effective development and presentation of the technical evidence essential for proving the defendant's liability in a defective medical device case. We also work closely with you and your treatment and rehabilitation team to make sure that your condition is properly diagnosed and documented and that you are receiving the best possible care and services.
Defective Implants & the Rise of Implant Surgery
There are roughly 1 million knee and hip replacement surgeries performed each year in the U.S. That number is expected to rise to nearly 4 million by 2030, due to an aging population and aggressive marketing to younger consumers by the companies producing joint replacements. The impact of defective implants will only rise as joint replacement surgery becomes more popular. At least one consumers group is pushing medical device manufacturers to provide warranties to help cover the costs incurred by those who receive defective products.
Part of the problem is that it is not clear how long these devices need to last. If a young patient has a knee replaced, should the knee last 10 years? 20? If it fails after 3 years, shouldn't the company that made the product bear some responsibility? Warranties would establish a time period that recipients could expect the device to function. That information might impact whether a patient decides to have a particular device implanted.
Unfortunately, failed knee and hip replacements are not rare. Consumers Union reports that 18 percent of hip replacement surgeries are revision surgeries. An estimated 8 percent of knee replacement surgeries are revision surgeries.
The group reported that revision surgeries generally result in longer hospital stays and may lead to additional surgeries. Such surgeries are also more expensive than initial joint replacement surgeries. A warranty would allow the recipients of failed products to recoup the expense associated with replacing them.
Product Liability Attorneys With a National Reputation
Attorney Craig McClellan is an AV rated* trial lawyer who has recovered about $250 million in verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. In 2004, he was honored with an invitation to join the Inner Circle of Advocates, a membership association of highly successful injury attorneys limited to 100 members at a time.
Clients of The McClellan Law Firm appreciate the close communication and highly personalized service they receive from our lawyer and staff. We limit our active caseload to 15 at a time so that every one of our clients can benefit from the full range of our experience, skill and concern for their welfare.
To learn more about your legal options in a case involving a defective medical device, contact The McClellan Law Firm in San Diego.