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.