Defective pacemakers can have a wide range of flaws – and the worst ones can be fatal. If you have a defective pacemaker, you should speak with your doctor right away. If you or your family has been harmed by a defective pacemaker, you may want to consider talking to a Los Angeles personal injury attorney.
What is a Defective Pacemaker?
A defective pacemaker is a pacemaker that has flaws either built into its design or that occurred during the manufacturing process. Pacemakers are supposed to work in very specific ways, and when they malfunction, they can cause serious harm or even death.
There are three kinds of recalls affecting pacemakers in the United States:
- Class III pacemaker recalls. These are the “least serious” of all the recalls. Usually, the risk to the patient is minimal in these cases.
- Class II pacemaker recalls. These devices have been found to be defective, and they pose a substantial risk to patients.
- Class I pacemaker recalls. Class I recalls are the most serious, and pacemakers subjected to them put a patient’s life at risk.
Two notable pacemaker brands have been recalled: Guidant Corporation and Medtronic. Guidant was required to recall more than 170,000 pacemakers in 2005, and Medtronic had to recall over 60,000 that were at risk for “shorting out.”
What Happens if a Pacemaker Malfunctions?
Not everyone experiences the same symptoms when a pacemaker malfunctions – but if you suspect that yours is not doing what it should, it’s a medical emergency. Look out for symptoms like:
- Heart palpitations
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Difficulty breathing
- Slow or fast heart rate
- Extracardiac stimulation
- Frequent hiccups
- Twitching of muscles in the chest or abdomen
What Devices Can Interfere With Pacemakers?
Some devices – including those that people use every day – can interfere with pacemakers. Although pacemakers have built-in features that protect them from interference, you should keep these everyday items at least a foot away from your pacemaker:
- Electric razors
- Hand-held massagers
- Portable music players
- Anything that transmits Bluetooth® signals
- Headphones and earbuds
- Magnetic wands used in Bingo games
- Battery-powered cordless power tools
- Corded drills and power tools
- Lawn mowers
- Leaf blowers
- Remote controls with antennas
- Slot machines
- Snow blowers
- Stereo speakers
There are some things you should keep at least two feet from your pacemaker, including:
- Arc welders
- CB radio antennas
- Running vehicle motors (particularly alternators, which can create a large magnetic field that can interfere with your pacemaker’s safe operation)
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Could You File a Product Liability Lawsuit Over a Defective Pacemaker?
If you have been harmed – or if your loved one was harmed – by a defective pacemaker, you could be eligible to file a product liability lawsuit against the entity responsible for the pacemaker’s defect. A product liability lawsuit would hold the manufacturer responsible for putting a defective medical device on the market – and it could even prevent them from harming others.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on a Defective Pacemaker Lawsuit?
In the state of California, you generally have two years to file a product liability lawsuit. The clock starts ticking when you find out about your injury or when you should have known about your injury. What that really means is that you have 24 months from the time you learned (or should have known) that your pacemaker was defective and causing you harm.
What About Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Related to Pacemakers?
If your pacemaker isn’t defective but your doctor or other medical professionals failed to adhere to the medical standard of care, you may be entitled to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Medical malpractice lawsuits are different from product liability lawsuits because your attorney must prove that the medical professionals responsible for helping you:
- Must have been part of a valid doctor-patient relationship with you
- Violated the standard of care
- The violation of the standard of care resulted in harm to you
- You suffered real, compensable damages
This also applies to survivors in many cases.
Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About a Defective Pacemaker Lawsuit?
If you’ve been harmed by a defective pacemaker, or if you believe you have a medical malpractice case, we may be able to help you. Call us at 818-230-8380 or fill out the form below to learn more now.