From the invention of the pacemaker in the 1960s until today, implantable
medical devices have become a staple of modern medicine. When matched
with the right candidate, they can greatly improve the quality of life,
and even sustain life. Today, electronic devices implanted in the body
can regulate arrhythmia, monitor blood sugar and blood pressure levels,
simulate nerve impulses and even control bladder and bowel functions.
That said, these devices aren’t without risk or even peril—and
if not properly implemented and monitored, they can even cause harm. Let’s
look at a few of the possible risks.
Infection—Despite all attempts to maintain a sterile environment while installing
the device, dangerous bacteria may enter at the incision site, causing
Allergic reactions—On occasion, the patient may be allergic to one or more of the materials
used to manufacture the device, causing a health crisis until it is removed.
Malfunction—For electronics of any type, device failure is typically not a matter
of if, but when. If the device has a manufacturer’s defect, it may
fail prematurely—and if the patient’s life depends on its
function… you can finish the sentence.
Hacking—Some devices now communicate via wi-fi or Bluetooth with other devices,
putting them at the same
risk for cyberattack as any other connected device.
Rejection—Our bodies naturally view any kind of inserted object as an enemy
to be attacked. If someone’s immune system is particularly aggressive
and resists anti-rejection medications, the patient may not be able to
tolerate the device.
Explosion?—It’s true. While it’s unlikely to happen while the patient
Slate.com reports a growing number of incidents of devices exploding during cremation, usually
due to their batteries. If the implant isn’t removed prior to cremation,
the explosion can damage the facility and even injure occupants of the room.
Implantable medical devices can make life better for the right candidate,
but you should always be aware of the risks and consult a physician immediately
if you observe any warning signs. If you suspect medical error or negligence
in the malfunction of an implant, our
Washington D.C. medical malpractice attorneys can help. Call our office to learn more.