Report: Defective medical devices cost U.S. $1.5 billion

The advancement of technology in medical devices has improved the lives of millions of Americans. Many would almost certainly not be alive today without pacemakers, cardio defibrillators and other devices meant to keep the heartbeat steady. However, when a person's life depends on the proper function of a machine, any defect in the device can have catastrophic consequences.

Unfortunately, many devices do fail. According to a recent report from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, problems with seven types of medical devices cost the Medicare system $1.5 billion over a period of 10 years.

The report covered the period of 2005 through 2014, and found that almost 73,000 people on Medicare needed to have medical devices replaced because they failed, were recalled, caused infection or other problems. In addition to the cost to all taxpayers, the patients had to pay at least $140 million for their own care. According to the report, these dollar figures were conservative estimates. The report did not list physical injuries suffered by the patients.

When a person is injured due to a defective product, whether it's a medical device, a drug, an automobile or a more mundane consumer good, the injured may pursue compensation for his or her damages through a lawsuit based on the theory of product liability.

Simply put, product liability means that those who put defective products into commerce can be held liable for damages suffered by consumers of those products. In cases involving defective medical devices, the damages can be extreme -- especially if the person was severely injured or died as a result of a faulty medical device.

Successfully pursuing a claim based on product liability takes knowledge, skill and persistence. It's important for the injured or their families to discuss their options with an attorney who has experience in product liability matters.

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