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Defective medical devices are not limited to those implanted in a patient's body. Patients who must use canes, wheelchairs, or other devices to get around are susceptible to a whole array of device warnings and risks that other Americans are not. According to The Baltimore Sun, it is imperative to maintain wheelchairs and walkers as you would a car, as a lack of proper maintenance can result in unsafe conditions such as broken or bent parts. If the device is broken, it can result in the requirement of extra energy to get around, more pain, or—worst-case scenario—a devastating accident that can result in hospitalization.

The onus of maintaining these devices is not, however, solely the responsibility of the patient. Sometimes these devices, and machinery used in conjunction with them, are not properly built or vetted before it is put on the market. One such incident occurred earlier this year, when a California-based manufacturer was ordered to pay a $1.75 million civil penalty for continuing to sell faulty wheelchair lifts. The lifts were recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), according to an agency report, as they had been labeled as potential fire hazards. Even after the recall was announced, the manufacturer, Rincon Corporation, continued selling the lifts to the public.

More than 4,000 Rincon lifts had been sold to manufacturers of buses and vans to help meet the transportation needs of wheelchair-bound patients. The recall was first announced in September 2012 because the lifts contained a defective cable determined to increase the risk of starting a fire. When the NHTSA followed up with the van and bus companies in 2013 to make sure that Rincon had informed them of the recall, the administration found that though Rincon had stopped producing the defective lifts it had not stopped selling them. Rincon later reported that it had sold 356 defective lifts after the recall had been issued.

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It has been several years since Michigan-based medical device manufacturer Stryker issued a voluntary recall of their Rejuvenate and ABH II modular-neck stem metal hip replacements, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The recall was made after many patients complained that the hip replacement was defective, causing them more pain and suffering than before the implant was surgically inserted. The main issue with the device is that it was found to be subject to a high rate of corrosion at the neck junction.

In November of last year, an agreement was reached in New Jersey that determined that the manufacturer would pay an average of $300,000 per implant in individual lawsuits brought against it. In some cases, depending if the patient is deceased, the payout may be less. In other cases, in which the pain and suffering is determined to be extreme, the payout may be more. The company, in total, would payout $1.4 billion in settlement claims, though the claim must be filed by an individual patient, even in this mass tort case.

If you have experienced pain or suffering because of a Stryker hip implant, the first step is to seek legal counsel. The next is to enroll in the Settlement Program. Enrollment opened on January 16 of this year, and is open until March 2. If you do not enroll in the Settlement Program before March 2, you will not be eligible to receive compensation. The fact that you enrolled in the claims process, however, does not guarantee that you will receive payment either. If you did not register for the settlement by December of last year, it is possible that you are not eligible to enroll. If this is the case for you, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney right away.

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In mid-January the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a first-of-its-kind device to treat obesity, according to a FDA press release. The device, known as the Maestro Rechargeable System, realigns nerve pathways between the brain and the stomach. It's the first FDA-approved device to fight obesity since 2007, and is approved for patients who have a body mass index of 35 to 45, with at least one other obesity-related condition. One such condition would be Type 2 diabetes. The system consists of a rechargeable electrical pulse generator, leads, and electrodes that are implanted surgically into the abdomen. Safety trials consisted of 233 patients, in which 157 received the device and 76 in a control group who did not. Though there were some adverse effects observed, the FDA sponsored a survey that found that patients with severe obesity would be willing to accept the dangers for the weight loss it promised.

There are several devices to help fight obesity that have been on the market for years, including those that tie off the passageways to the stomach. Some of these devices require that the patient eat very slowly, or that he takes very small bites. Many of these devices came under fire by the FDA for safety concerns. One well-publicized event was the discontinuation of the manufacture of one of these devices for teenagers after two percent of patients who were using them experienced severe side effects. According to the National Institutes of Health, a significant number of patients surveyed in a trial of obesity-reducing devices experienced negative side effects.

Only time will tell if the recently approved device will have a similarly bad track record. If you or someone you know has experienced negative side effects or long-term health problems because of an obesity device, you may be eligible for compensation. Do not go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago defective medical device attorney today.

Sometimes a medical device meant to provide relief for patients suffering and expedite healing causes more pain than relief. One of these devices is known as a pain pump, most commonly used in patients recovering from shoulder surgery after a serious shoulder injury. According to the New York Times, these devices became popular in the late 1990s because they allowed patients to leave the hospital earlier while they received narcotic painkillers for recovery through the pump. While the pain pumps had received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the FDA had never cleared the devices for use in joints.

It was not long until several young patients returned to their surgeons suffering from chondrolysis, a rare ailment in which the cartilage dies, precipitating the painful condition of a bone grinding on an adjacent bone. One orthopedic surgeon told the Times that he had lost many hours of sleep trying to figure out what was causing the chondrolysis before several medical studies identified pain pumps as a likely culprit.

Throughout 2010 and 2011, hundreds of lawsuits were filed against the manufacturer of one widely implemented pain pump, I-Flow Corporation. The company was ordered to pay millions of dollars in settlements to patients who had experienced negative side effects, many who had to have shoulder joints entirely replaced. The FDA issued a warning discouraging the use of pain pumps in joints, and required manufacturers of anesthetics to change labels, encouraging doctors not to use such anesthetics through pain pumps.

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Though the manufacturer has come under fire for defective devices in the past, this year the da Vinci Sp Intuitive single port robot system used in surgical procedures is expected to hit the consumer market, according to MedGadget.com. The system is designed to allow for single-incision surgeries, and is a competitor to manufacturing giant Titan. The system was first introduced as a prototype more than five years ago, but only received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last year.

The first da Vinci Intuitive surgical robot was introduced more than a decade ago. When the company first went public, 15 years ago, it posted $10 million in annual sales, though the robot had only been used on 600 patients worldwide. The machine was thought by the medical professional community to be a great symbol of technological surgical advance, and, according to ModernHealthcare.com, “one of the most coveted status symbols of 21st-century medicine.” Yet the $2.3 million machine caused serious side effects and even injury in several patients, due to a disregard for patient safety on the part of the manufacturer and aggressive marketing tactics that often preceded patient testing.

As of 2013, according to ModernHealthcare.com, da Vinci was facing 25 product liability lawsuits. Many of the lawsuits allege that the manufacturer failed to properly train surgeons on how to use the innovative machine, and instead pushed through patents and marketing efforts before hospitals were equipped enough to handle the new technology.

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