What is a Defibrillator?
A defibrillator is a device that is surgically implanted in persons who have a type of heart disease that creates the risk of a life-threatening heart arrhythmia (abnormal rhythm). Defibrillators deliver an electrical shock to the heart to restore normal heart rhythm.
Recall of the Guidant Defibrillator
In June 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a nationwide notification of recall of certain Guidant implantable defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization therapy defibrillators. The devices affected by the June 2005 notification were:
The PRIZM 2 and RENEWAL devices are subject to different failures, resulting in the devices' inability to deliver an electrical shock during episodes of arrhythmia. This can lead to a serious, life-threatening event for a patient implanted with these devices. The FDA received reports of two deaths, which are suspected to be associated with this malfunction.
In June 2006, Boston Scientific issued another recall on certain defibrillators. Boston Scientific delivered this notification because it acquired Guidant Corporation in April 2006. Boston Scientific recalled:
Boston Scientific/Guidant confirmed 5 device malfunction reports from the approximately 27,200 patients worldwide who had these devices implanted. One malfunction occurred at the time of implantation, while, in the other 4 cases, the patients needed a device replacement. In 2 of these cases, the patients lost consciousness when their devices malfunctioned. No deaths have been reported.
In the June 2005 announcement, the FDA recommends taking the following steps, if you might be affected by a faulty defibrillator:
In the more recent recall, Boston Scientific sent letters to doctors and patients, warning and advising that patients see their doctors as soon as possible.
Getting Legal Help
A medical device manufacturer has a duty to make its products as reasonably safe as possible, and to inform the medical community and the public of any known risks associated with its products. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held legally responsible if patients are injured as the result of inadequate warnings or the unreasonably dangerous nature of the medical device, under product liability law.
If you or a loved one have had a Guidant or other recalled defibrillator implanted and are experiencing any unusual health problems or medical conditions, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to meet with an experienced attorney to discuss your options and to protect your right to a legal remedy for any injuries caused by a Guidant defibrillator.
For more information, read the Get Legal Help with a Defective Product Injury article, which can tell you more about an attorney's role in a medical device case. Then, call an experienced attorney in your area to ask for a consultation.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.