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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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In what will likely be the first of many settlements to come, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to resolve claims from four Missouri women that its Ethicon Prolift vaginal mesh implant caused serious injuries.

The settlements came almost literally at the courthouse door, as jury selection was scheduled to begin in late January 2015. Since the controversy over these devices began in 2012, J&J consistently denied that these devices are dangerous. Nevertheless, it currently faces about 23,000 liability lawsuits. One observer noted that “it's only four cases, but it's a start. There's still a long way to go to get the whole thing resolved.” A J&J spokesperson emphasized that the company did not admit or deny liability as part of the settlement terms and that “the company may consider whether settlement is appropriate” in individual cases.

Johnson and Johnson voluntarily recalled the Ethicon Prolift in June 2012, along with three other vaginal mesh implants. Other manufacturers include Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems and Coloplast.

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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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A breakthrough in the medical community came for migraine sufferers this November, according to MedicalXPress.com. A study from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine found that nerves in the brains of patients who suffered migraines show abnormalities of the “myelin sheath that serves as insulation around nerve fibers,” MedicalXPress.com reports. The study involved observing 15 patients who underwent a surgical treatment that attempted to reduce the negative effects of serious migraines, and included electron microscopy that assessed the structure of cell nerves in patient's brains. The study also examined the presence and function of cranial proteins in migraine patients.

Ultimately, the study found that patients whose myelin sheath was damaged were more likely to suffer migraines. As a result, one doctor in the study “developed migraine surgery techniques after noticing that some migraine patients had reduced headache activity after cosmetic forehead-lifting.” This type of cosmetic surgery removes some of the muscle and vessel tissue surrounding cranial nerves.

This is great news for people who suffer migraines because migraine drugs have long been very prone to negative side effects in patients. According to Healthline, painkillers, often prescribed and taken for migraines, can have severe side effects affecting the stomach and kidneys and can result in heart attack or stroke. Because these painkillers are so common, doctors sometimes neglect to make their patients aware of how serious of a drug they can be if misused.

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Many risks of anti-depressants are relatively well-known and publicized. One of the most common side effects of anti-depressants occurs when expectant mothers take them. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) have a very high risk of resulting in birth defects in a newborn, reports the National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institute for Health (NIH).

By some estimates, between 20 and 30 percent of newborns who are “exposed to SSRIs towards the end of gestation have disorders such as agitation, abnormal muscle tone and suction, seizures and hypornatraemia.” This research was first made public in late 2005, according to NIH, and immediately pregnant women who were taking SSRIs were advised to seek alternative therapies and, in some cases, even encouraged to reevaluate the diagnosis.

And yet birth defects, while perhaps the best-known side effects of SSRIs, may not be the most severe or serious. According to a publication from the Harvard Medical School, SSRIs can also result in serious physical symptoms ranging from insomnia to stomach issues, skin rashes, and joint or muscle pain. The risk of internal bleeding is approximately the same as it is with NSAIDs, found in common medications such as aspirin and naproxen.

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