Last Tuesday, a number of families that have been adversely affected by malfunctioning medical equipment gathered on Capitol Hill to communicate their support for the Medical Device Safety Act. As it is proposed, this bill would allow consumers to file lawsuits against their devices’ manufacturers.
According to one such recipient of a faulty medical device, Mike Collins of Georgetown, TX, spoke during the press conference about how he had been shocked six times by a faulty pacemaker. As Collins says in his own words, “These companies need to be held responsible for what they do.”
Another speaker in attendance was six year-old Avery Degroh of McHenry, Illinois, who had mentioned that he was also shocked by a faulty defibrillator. Additionally, the family of Robert Baird voiced there concerns on behalf of their son, an Oakdale, Minnesota teenager who died from a pacemaker malfunction.
In addition to medication mistakes, problems caused by medical devices can pose a hazard to patients’ health, according to a study by the University of Utah School of Medicine, LDS Hospital and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Problematic devices include everything from faulty prosthetics to insufficient glue used in hip replacements to broken hospital beds. the study, published in Wednesday’s issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first of its kind to evaluate computer-based surveillance techniques to identify and estimate the number of patients who have bad experiences with a medical device.
Conducted from January to September 2000, the study evaluated 20,500 patients who were admitted during that time. Using computer surveillance and other detection techniques, researchers discovered:
Out of 504 patients — 2.5 percent of those admitted — had problems with medical devices. One patient died from an infection after a catheter implant.