Fatality Risks and Power Failure in Pacemakers

Fatality Risks and Power Failure in Pacemakers

Research indicates that up to one-third of sudden deaths in heart patients with pacemakers could be caused by device malfunctions, including power failure. In Nevada, defective product attorneys see serious complications, injuries and fatalities caused by faulty pacemakers.

Pacemaker Risks

Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs) are used in patients who have arrhythmias and other heart problems. Devices are surgically implanted in the chest near the heart, or in the shoulder or stomach. Attached wires run from the device to the patient’s heart to keep the heartbeat at the proper rhythm. These devices work by constantly measuring the rhythm of the heart and using small electric shocks to keep the heartbeat regular.

Once a pacemaker is surgically implanted, the average battery life can range from five to 15 years, depending on the type of pacemaker used and the patient’s lifestyle. Batteries used in most newer pacemakers are lithium-ion batteries that often have problems if lithium deposits build up inside the battery. When build-up occurs, it creates an abnormal electrical connection that can lead to rapid battery failure, risks of serious injury, or even wrongful death of the patient.

Product Liability Claims for Faulty Pacemakers

When pacemaker power failure occurs, the patient may not be immediately aware of the problem. In 2015, St. Jude Medical issued a recall of heart pacemakers with defective batteries that lost power within a 24 hour period. Many patients were unaware of the problem until they experienced sudden symptoms.

In Nevada, there are numerous lawsuits related to faulty pacemakers. Most lawsuits are filed as product liability cases with Reno defective product attorneys, rather than as medical malpractice cases. With any defective product, physicians are obligated to avoid implanting such a device in patients. A physician must confirm the serial number of each pacemaker implanted and ensure its fitness for use. Failure to do so can make the physician liable for medical malpractice, and a malpractice lawsuit could be filed under product liability theories, such as strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and fraud.

Statutes of limitation establish deadlines for filing lawsuits. The statute of limitations for product liability claims in Nevada is four years. In general, the limitation period begins from the date that the plaintiff knew or should have known of an injury, rather than the date of the injury itself. When a plaintiff misses the cutoff filing date, the defendant can use the statute of limitations as a legal defense.