Well, I certainly agree with you that there are a certain number of frivolous lawsuits created by unscrupulous attorneys. (One of my favorite jokes is what do you call a lawyer at the bottom of the ocean? Answer: a good start). However, there would be no need for lawsuits if manufacturers went to extra lengths to make sure their products are reliable.. and people who are harmed by faulty merchandise also need to be able to seek justice in court. Heck, even Tom Delay, who was a lead torch-bearer in the Schiavo case, used attorneys to sue about his own father's death (showing of course his hypocrisy)
On Medtronics. I hope you would agree with me that if a manufacturer finds out (however that happens) that they would warn people about using the product and pull it from sales. That's what Medtronics did about their defibrillator.
Defibrillator manufacturer Medtronic Inc. is warning patients and health care providers that an electrical wire (called a "lead") that links the defibrillator to the heart could fracture. Medtronic is voluntarily suspending all distribution of the "Sprint Fidelis" leads. Medtronic defibrillators have included the Fidelis lead since 2004. According to a Press Release from Medtronic, Inc., the estimated 268,000 patients who have been implanted with Sprint Fidelis leads might experience lead fractures as "audible alerts, inappropriate shocks and/or loss of output," and the company has identified five deaths "in which a Sprint Fidelis lead fracture may have been a possible or likely contributing factor." At this time, Medtronic is not recommending replacement of the leads, because risks posed by implanting of a different lead are greater than risks presented by fracture of the Sprint Fidelis lead.
Plus, their warranty doesn't cover it-it must be elective surgery, and insurance doesn't typically pay it unless recommended by a doctor. Story in the Minneapolis Tribune.
She, and many others, have embarked on a series of phone calls to doctors and insurers that may prove confusing and frustrating.
All face similar options: Remove the leads -- an often difficult surgery -- and replace it with a new one. Leave the old lead in the body and snake a new one in the chest using a different vein. Or reprogram the defibrillator to new settings that may detect fractures.
That option would leave the leads in place, and they would have to be frequently tracked using sophisticated monitoring equipment.
Medtronic and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have advised patients to leave the leads intact. But for many patients, the choice isn't so clear-cut. The potential rate of fracture is small, at 2.3 percent, but a risk nonetheless.
I don't know about the France lawsuit but I suspect there are interesting details about why the lawsuit occurred that went beyond the short blurb.
Incidentally, I noticed another article about Medtronic in a bribery lawsuit, where they were bribing doctors to sell their products.
Last week, the New York Times reported on documents filed in a lawsuit against Medtronic, one of America's largest medical device makers, with $10 billion in annual sales.
A prominent surgeon in Wisconsin was paid $400,000 a year by Medtronic for a consulting contract requiring him to work just eight days. Another doctor in Virginia received nearly $700,000 in consulting fees from Medtronic for the first nine months of 2005.
These doctors work in a growing field, complex back surgery, and this makes them particularly valuable to the spinal-implant division of Medtronic. In recent years, the company has spent tens of millions of dollars on consulting contracts and other types of payments to them and numerous other prominent surgeons, according to papers filed as part of a whistle-blower lawsuit. The suit contends that some of these payments were made to attract or retain the doctors' business.