If Flat Irons Have Warranties Shouldn’t Medical Devices?

GM has been in the news a lot lately for defects in ignition switches and other parts. Defects in cars are covered by a strict liability theory in products liability cases. But while GM sat on the knowledge of the problem with its ignition switches for almost 10 years, most car companies are smart enough to recall the car and replace the defective part or fix the defect. In so doing, they prevent unnecessary injury and lawsuits. The duty to warn of known defects is required by law, and it should be. GM could have replaced the defective 57¢ part with a part that cost 90¢ more.

Unfortunately in the medical device world, when consumers are warned of a defect in a medical device, it is not as simple as bringing the device in for repair. Not only does the consumer often have to undergo a surgical procedure (think hip replacements), they also have to foot the expensive medical bills. Frequently the only recourse for the victim of a defective medical device is to sue the manufacturer to recoup medical expenses.

As a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant or as an RN working in a hospital job, what do you think? Is it time that makers of implantable medical devices cover those same devices with a warranty? I understand that replacing a defective hip implant isn’t as simple as taking a defective flat iron back to Costco®, but the manufacturer should have a replacement process available to the consumer that includes the medical expenses and all other related costs (time off from work, rehabilitation, etc.).

Without paying for the costs related to replacement, medical device makers are getting off cheap, at least until the patient sues. I say it’s time for a change or the consumer will have no choice but to resort to America’s civil justice system for recourse. God Bless America.

I’m Just Sayin’

P.S. Comment and share your views on warranties for defective implantable medical devices.

3 thoughts on “If Flat Irons Have Warranties Shouldn’t Medical Devices?

  1. I suspect the ignition problem has gone on far longer than GM wants to admit. In 1993, my parents drove their Pontiac down to see us in Florida from Wisconsin. Their car’s engine kept shutting off at very inopportune times, despite their Wisconsin GM dealer’s multiple attempts to identify and fix it. The most exciting shut-off was on their trip to see us, in Atlanta during rush hour. Our GM dealer in Florida knew just what to do and fixed the problem in less than 20 minutes. But it WAS an ignition thing. So for any CLNC® consultant who plans to consult in this lawsuit, I’d suggest to the attorneys to dig deeper and a bit further back. Some design flaws can be perpetuated for many years as long as nobody complains!

  2. Warranties should be standard. Having said that, it scares me to think of the cost that would be applied to such a warranty. How much would you pay for the “extended warranty”? It’s almost laughable, when you really think how unlikely that is! I guess this speaks to the bigger problem, of how these devices are manufactured, FDA approved and implanted before really knowing whether or not they are effective and long lasting? Like you mentioned, it’s not like you quickly drop off your hip implant at Costco and get your refund.

  3. I have to agree with you Vickie, why not have a warranty in place to financially assist victims of defective parts. But…instead their system of handling the defects is to rely on their malpractice insurance which is easier for them to settle. I can imagine their malpractice insurance premiums are very expensive and I wonder if our government is paying for the premiums? The reason I ask that is the government pays for medical research and development of devices.

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*The opinions and statements made by Vickie Milazzo, the founder of Medical-Legal Consulting Institute, Inc. are based on her experiences and expertise, should not be applied beyond the specific context provided, and do not guaranty or project actual results. Vickie Milazzo is no longer involved in the operations or management of the business, but is involved as an independent education consultant.

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