When someone goes to the hospital to receive medical care, it would be expected that they consider different factors such as to the doctor they choose or the type of care they want. However, what rarely goes through their minds is what medical equipment is used and whether or not it can be trusted. Unfortunately, medical equipment can and does fail from time to time, leaving patients permanently disabled, suffering serious injuries or even death. Generally speaking, these equipment failures are preventable through the exercise of reasonable diligence such as inspections, calibration checks and maintenance.
Common Types of Medical Equipment Failure
There are several types of failures associated with medical equipment. The most common of these are diagnostic equipment, medical monitors, emergency machines (such as defibulators), and long-term equipment installed in the patient’s body (such as pacemakers). Sometimes these failures are the result of poor maintenance or improper calibration, which leads to the failure of a device to perform a critical function or be accurate enough to adequately perform its task correctly. Other times, failures occur due to a lack of inspections that fail to catch an issue with a device before it occurs.
Diagnostic equipment failure is one of the most serious types of medical equipment failure. This is due to their importance in properly diagnosing a patient, which ensures they receive the correct treatment. These machines often feature highly advanced technology that diagnoses a wide range of medical conditions such as cancer, brain tumors, broken bones, and lung problems. The most common of these devices are X-ray machines, ultrasound machines, CT & PET scanners and MRI machines. If these machines were to fail or malfunction, it can either misdiagnose a medical issue or miss it altogether, resulting in serious illness or death to the patient.
Another equally critical type of equipment that can fail or malfunction are medical monitors. Doctors and healthcare providers rely on these devices to keep track of critically ill patients and ensure they have stable vital parameters. These devices monitor things such as a patient’s cardiac conditions, blood flow and blood pressure, respiratory functions, body temperature and childbirth/pregnancy. If these devices were to fail or malfunction, it can result in a misdiagnosis of symptoms or a failure to notice critical changes in a patient’s condition. In certain situations, this can result in serious injury or death to patients.
Emergency machines are of obvious importance in a hospital environment. Like all other types of equipment, these can and do fail or malfunction if not properly maintained and regularly inspected. Defibrillators are one of the most critical emergency machines in hospitals and ER centers, as they are used to restore function of the body’s natural pacemaker. Common applications for these devices are to treat cases of cardiac arrest and irregular or rapid heartbeats. If a defibrillator fails or malfunctions, it can pose very serious consequences. Defibrillator malfunction can result in an incorrect amount of electricity being delivered to the body, resulting in heart failure. In extreme cases, a complete failure of a defibrillator can result in death.
Long-term medical devices are often not thought about when it comes to medical equipment failure, however their failure can cause serious life threatening situations. Artificial pacemakers are the most common of these types of devices, with approximately 3 million users worldwide. These devices are implanted inside the body and serve to fix irregular heartbeats due to a patient’s natural pacemaker not working correctly. While pacemaker malfunction is rare, it can cause serious health issues and even death. Some of the symptoms include:
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty breathing
- A heart rate that is either too high, too low or both
- Muscle twitching
- Unusual frequency in hiccups
- Irregular heartbeat
Victims of Medical Device Failure
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical device failure or malfunction, it is vital you reach out to an experienced attorney specializing in medical malpractice law as soon as possible. While the damage incurred from medical device failure cannot be reversed, you may be entitled to just compensation. This can help to ease the burden of any resulting lifelong complications or life changes that are a result of the failure of medical equipment.