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Medical device maker sued by veteran

Virginia patients who received Zimmer implants may be interested to know that the firm was sued in late 2013 by a military veteran. The Texas vet had gotten his implants after a 2007 motorcycle accident left him with two fractures in his lower leg. The Zimmer plate that the doctors used to stabilize the bone broke unexpectedly following his initial surgery.

According to an interview with a Zimmer representative, the company is not required to inform the FDA of such defective products unless a medical professional brings the matter to its attention. Although the veteran said he told the company about the defects, he noted that nothing really changed and that he even received a second implant that subsequently broke. Although the vet went through three surgeries, he still wound up requiring a cane and barely escaped an amputation.

The vet also alleged that the company knew its products were defective. Sources claimed that the firm's internal memos demonstrated concerns with the quality of the plates and that when a Zimmer worker came to the man's surgery to document the broken devices, the issue was not reported to the FDA within the required 30-day period. Since the FDA never publicized the issue, the doctors simply threw the old plates away, making it difficult for the veteran to gather evidence supporting his claim against the international manufacturer.

Defective medical devices can result in serious disabilities and continuing health issues for patients. Unfortunately, firms may fight against being held responsible for their products, and FDA rules may not be always followed. As a result, some injured patients have a hard time protecting their rights through conventional means. Attorneys may be able to assist these individuals by investigating company histories and internal communications in order to establish liability in civil proceedings.

Source: WFAA, "After plate in leg breaks again, military vet brings lawsuit against device company", Shelly Slater, December 19, 2013

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