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Implantable and External Defibrillators

A defibrillator is a device designed to deliver a significant electrical shock to a person who is suffering from tachycardia, a condition where the heart is beating wildly in an uncoordinated rhythm that prevents it from pumping blood. It is often confused with a heart attack. This rhythm abnormality results in a rapid loss of oxygen to the brain and death can result in a matter of minutes. However, defibrillators offer an excellent chance for the victim of tachycardia to survive the episode (or as some call it "Vee-Tach") when utilized soon enough after the initial symptoms begin.

Without a doubt thousands of people owe their lives to the successful use of a defibrillator. They are not without risks or non-problematic however.

You've no doubt seen on TV and Film those scenes where the doctor takes two "paddles" and holds them to a heart patient's chest and shouts "Clear!" before applying the electrical charge. That's a dramatization of an external defibrillator in action. There are also small implantable devices that do the same thing, fully automated and in many cases they are very successfully utilized. They've also had their share of problems.

External Defibrillators

Medtronic invented the first external defibrillator in 1961, and is a leader in the field. Until about a decade ago, you only found these devices in hospitals and medical facilities. However, in the past ten years we've seen the introduction of small and easily operated defibrillators that are being used on commercial air flights, in Senior Centers, Schools and other government and commercial buildings, even on some public transportation systems.

Since Medtronic entered the scene, we've seen other companies come into significant market positions as well, such as Physio-Control, Guidant, Laerdal, and Phillips electronics.

The most interesting ones actually talk a person through the steps verbally. It tells you if the normal rhythm has been established, or to shock again -- verbally walking the user through each step. They are called automate Electronic Defibrillators or AED's. However, there have been some allegations of these units failing due to battery problems or failure of the speech mechanism to work. If you've encountered this, please fill out the form here.

External Defibrillator Problems

The FDA recently announced that Medtronic had had "failed to complete legally required steps to deal with reported flaws" in their defibrillators. They state that malfunctions have occurred, but they declined to include details. If you have ever had an external defibrillator used on you or a loved one, please click here for more information on a potential class action lawsuit involving this issue.

External Defibrillators have had other problems as well. There have been allegations of people burned by them; units that failed to work at all, bad cables that prevented the units from working and other serious issues.

The University of Washington published a report that stating that in a five state study they found "156 reports of defibrillator problems to the Emergency Care Research Institute Problem Reporting Network, 495 reports of device problems to the Medical Device Reporting System, 676 reports of "defibrillator failure", 594 inspections of in-service defibrillators, and site visits to 212 emergency care facilities." The Defibrillator Working Group concluded that the frequency of defibrillator failures during clinical use may be "unacceptably high."

There have been a fairly significant number of recalls pertaining to external defibrillators, especially in terms of failure to operate and the subsequent death of the patients involved. If you or a loved one had a problem with an external defibrillator of any type, including death or mental impairment as a result of oxygen deprivation in conjunction with the use of a defibrillator, please complete this form.

Internal Defibrillator Problems

In May of 2005 Guidant Corporation released information indicating that thousands of people who have a Guidant implanted electronic defibrillator designed to shock a faltering heart may have a unit that might short-circuit or malfunction. If you use or used a Guidant Implantable Defibrillator and have encountered any problems with it, please fill in this form.

Between 2001 and 2003 Medtronic recalled and replaced over 16,000 Implanted Defibrillators when it was discovered that a battery flaw might render the unit ineffective for its purpose. If you have an implantable defibrillator from any manufacturer and you suspect there are problems with the device, please fill in this form for a law firm to review.

Are You Possibly Qualified for Damages?

If you or a loved one had a cardiac emergency that required the use of any brand of external defibrillator, and there were any problems associated with the use of the defibrillator, a law firm would like to review your matter. Be aware that not all problems with medical devices are reported to the patient, so if you suspect there was a problem with the defibrillation intervention in your case, please fill in this form here for a law firm to review.

If you have an implantable cardiac defibrillator and have experienced multiple shocks for no apparent reason, or you have reason to believe it might be one of the various models that have been failing to operate properly, or you've had to endure additional pain and discomfort to replace a bad or recalled defibrillator, please fill in this form.

A law firm with a particular interest in these matters will review your information.

If you've had a defibrillator used on you at any point for any reason and you even suspect there were problems, regardless of who administered it or where, please fill in this form.