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Who is Liable for a Defective
Medical Device?

Between manufacturers, doctors, distributors and government agencies, there are many possible agents who could hold liability for defective medical devices.

One of the most difficult tasks a personal injury attorney can face is ensuring a client is made whole in the settlement process of a product liability claim.

Claims against single negligent individuals are regularly limited by the amount of insurance coverage available when the opposing litigant has no personal assets that can be attached.

Claims that include the possibility of multiple negligent actors who have significant resources that can be used in financial damage awards are much different than a typical personal claim, and defective medical device liability claims fall squarely in that group.

There are several handlers involved when medical treatment is being provided, especially when medical devices are being recommended with a specific treatment goal in mind. Chief among these types of devices in the past decade have been mechanical knee replacements and hip replacements as well as hernia mesh retainers.

The problem is that many manufacturers are in a rush to place the devices on the market, and they do not always thoroughly test them for long-term damage. Luckily for defective device victims, there is legal recourse available when an experienced defective product attorney represents the case.

But the question still remains:

Who’s liable for a defective medical device?


The first groups that stand to gain financially from installing medical devices are surgeons and specialist doctors, and these medical professionals are commonly influenced by distributors and medical treatment facilities to recommend certain devices that could potentially help their patients.

Many recipients actually experience great success with devices that are installed properly and function as stated. This contributes greatly to their popularity. However, not all devices are the right treatment option, and serious damage and discomfort can be the result when the devices are installed improperly or do not perform as indicated.


Companies that are acting as sales departments for medical devices are commonly found as the agents of misrepresentation when describing the advantages and responsiveness of their wares.

While many doctors and surgeons are often skeptical at first regarding device installation, some products are actually determined safe and effective by the Federal Drug Administration in quick fashion before being put on the market.

Multiple problems with medical devices have occurred over several years of use when the particular product was not analyzed comprehensively regarding ongoing medical issues stemming from usage.

Distributors also regularly have sales drives when the products arrive on the market are hailed as the best treatment option. Many times these products are over-emphasized by both the surgeons and the distributors.

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Treatment Facilities

Medical centers such as hospitals that offer surgery services also have much to gain when new medical devices are implemented as common forms of health care.

None of the implant procedures are economical for the most part, and hospitals are profit centers themselves. Patients who have excellent insurance protection can be influenced easily to have a procedure done that may not necessarily be the best decision, as medical devices are not always the last option.

Hospitals allow surgeons to use their facilities as a form of professional care cooperation, but they rarely refuse a request for a surgery procedure. They typically provide the nursing staff and other patient preparation for a procedure as well, and mistakes can be made quickly and easily in high-volume treatment facilities regardless of operational size.

What a Product Liability Attorney Must Prove

Product liability claims fall under the legal concept of strict liability when they are presented in court.

The plaintiff attorney must establish the injury by medical documentation, including both diagnosis and long-term prognosis from medical professionals who have treated the patient. The actions of each particular medical treatment respondent are evaluated for standard application, but more attention will be focused on the actual device and how it failed and resulted in the damage.

Details matter greatly in medical product liability claims, and several parties could be found negligent on some level. Proving negligence on the part of the manufacturer does not apply in strict liability cases because liability is implied when the product is marketed.

Claims involving defective medical devices are much more common than the typical patient realizes. Never accept that an ineffective device cannot be replaced with due compensation for emotional distress and medical expenses after the fact.

Our experienced product liability attorneys understand how to build a case for maximum financial award. Contact Gilreath & Associates today for your free consultation.

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