Medical malpractice, and the chances of being a victim of it, are scary. Just the idea that the professionals we rely upon to safeguard our health and well being could make a mistake is frightening. But every now and then, a story comes out that reminds us even more of how scary medical mistakes can be and makes us wonder how poor the standard of care in medicine can get.
Warning About Medical Devices
This time, the news comes out of Maryland's Baltimore Washington Medical Center (BWMC). BWMC is informing hundreds of patients who underwent spinal fusion procedures that hardware used or implanted in them could actually be fake or otherwise defective.
When we undergo medical procedures, it is not just the skill of our doctors that is at issue, but also the quality of the medicines and the devices they use. The best doctor in the world won't help if the medical device he or she is using is faulty or if the medicine being used is dangerous.
That said, hospitals and medical providers do have an obligation to make sure they don't use any device or medicine that they know or should have known to be dangerous. According to allegations, the company that supplied the spinal fusion devices had been previously cited by the FDA for quality control problems. The company even previously issued a recall on spinal fusion devices. The company has since gone out of business.
According to the FDA, the faulty or fake parts could cause product failures, product breakage, or "inadequate sterilization."
The hospital apparently sent the notices to former patients as a cautionary measure to advise them as early as possible that they may be at risk.
Bad Devices are a Large Concern
There is actually a large concern over faulty or low quality medical devices. In an industry where insurance payouts can be significant, it is no surprise that shady operators with substandard products are trying to infiltrate the market.
Many device makers have relationships with doctors that may even include kickbacks or other incentives for doctors that use a certain company's devices. According to the article, to hide the kickbacks being received by doctors, the company in question developed fake consulting contracts as a way of paying doctors without the payments looking like incentives or kickbacks.
Kickbacks doesn't automatically mean the products being used are dangerous or substandard, but it does raise concern that doctors or hospitals may not always be objective in evaluating the quality of the products they are using on patients.
BWMC is not the only hospital involved in the potential problems; 17 hospitals nationally are also being investigated. BWMC is also reminding people that the faulty hardware was only used in a very specific kind of spinal surgery, which only a small number of patients even had, increasing the chance that any patients at BWMC are in danger.
If you have been injured by a fake, faulty, defective, or malfunctioning product--medical or otherwise--you need attorneys that understand these kinds of complex cases. Contact the attorneys of Brassel, Alexander & Rice, LLC today for a free consultation to discuss your rights.