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Faulty medical implants put thousands at risk

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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A recent investigation has revealed that thousands of patients face unnecessary surgery to remove faulty medical equipment. Researchers warn that implants; including hip replacements, breast implants and pacemakers are causing avoidable injuries and, in some cases, deaths.
In 2009 the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, responsible for monitoring medical equipments, received more that 9,000 reports of ‘adverse incidents’ involving medical devices. 1,885 of the complaints involved serious injury and 202 resulted in death.
A Channel 4 Dispatches documentary (shown on 16 May 2011) warns that there are many failing or inadequate devices in use, despite manufacturers being aware of the problems. In particular, it claims that up to half of ASR metal hip replacements shed metal causing intense pain for patients.
The documentary indicates that one manufacturer, DePuy, kept a metal hip replacement on the market until 2010 despite repeated criticisms by doctors from as early as 2007. In a further example, a pacemaker/defibrillator was only recalled after 600 reports of a broken component and five deaths.
The British Medical Journal (BMJ) believe that not enough is being done to check the safety of medical devices before they are approved for public use and add that there is too much reliance on patients to report faults.
Dr Carl Heneghan, GP and Director of Oxford University’s Centre of Evidence-based medicine, said: “patients should have access to the evidence about the nature of their devices, the true benefits and the true harms. At the moment that is not happening and patients are acting like guinea pigs.”
If you have been affected by a surgical accident, or if you believe that the medical treatment you have received is below a reasonable standard, then we have a dedicated team of clinical negligence solicitors who would be happy to advise you further. Call us for free initial advice on 01616 966 229.