Death or Injury from Pacemakers and Defibrillators on the Rise


Hundreds of thousands of people suffer death or injury from the very pacemakers or defibrillators intended to save their lives. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issues an increasing number of alerts, advisories and recalls of these devices each year. Read on to find out more about problems with mechanical heart devices.

Pacemakers and Heart Problems

Pacemakers are routinely implanted in patients who have bradycardia, or a slow heart rate. These devices monitor the heart and use electrical impulses to keep it at a safe rhythm. When pacemakers are functioning properly, they help to alleviate the fatigue, dizziness and fainting that are symptomatic of a slow heart rate. Patients can be alerted to possible problems with their pacemakers when the symptoms of bradycardia return. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to diagnose device malfunction, as some symptoms may be subtle or absent. And when equipment failures go unnoticed, serious health issues, injury or even death can be the unfortunate result.

Issues with Defibrillators

Like pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) are surgically implanted in patients with irregular heart rhythms. Defibrillators, however, are used to treat abnormally fast heart rates (tachycardia) and prevent cardiac arrest. These mechanical aids deliver a shock to the heart when a dangerous rhythm is detected. Death or injury from malfunctioning defibrillators is even more common than from pacemakers. A faulty ICD can cause the heart to contract poorly, delivering painful shocks and preventing blood from getting to the brain and other vital organs. Health can quickly deteriorate when a defibrillator fails, and death can result in a matter of minutes.

Legal Recourse for Injury from Pacemakers and Defibrillators

Pacemakers and ICDs are intended to be life-saving, not life-threatening. But every year an increasing number of personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits are filed as a result of malfunctions. Those who experience injury, and the families of those whose devices caused their deaths, may be able to obtain legal compensation. Medical device manufacturers may be held liable for harm defective products cause. Lawsuits are brought against companies for product design flaws or negligence in product labeling or instructions. Companies may also be held liable for errors that occur during the manufacturing process.

If you or a loved one has been harmed by medical equipment failure, you may be entitled to compensation for rehabilitation and other medical expenses. The courts may also award damages for pain and suffering or wrongful death. Contact the experienced attorneys at Rasmussen and Miner in Salt Lake City to schedule a consultation. They can assist you in making your case and obtaining justice for injury caused by pacemakers or other medical devices.