Imagine knowing that a device that you depend on to save your life might not work when it’s supposed to. Now imagine that the people who made that device knew that it might not work when it is supposed to. Many people have recently been faced with that exact situation, when the Guidant Corporation recalled several models of cardiac defibrillators and pacemakers, due to defects that could cause injury and death. Though Guidant knew about the defects in several models, it continued to sell them for surgical implantation in people, without telling doctors or patients about the problems.
Thousands of people have been implanted with the recalled devices. Guidant did not tell doctors about the defects until right before the New York Times published an article which discussed the death of a 21-year-old whose defibrillator short-circuited. No one knows how long Guidant would have continued to make money from the defective devices, if the media had not brought the story forward.
Now that patients have learned about the recall, they must think about having another surgery to replace the device. For some people, the risk of infection or complications from the extra surgery may cause them to decide to keep their device in. Then they must live with the anxiety of knowing that at the very time that they need the device, it may fail and lead to their death. Many people have already suffered sometimes fatal injuries from defective Guidant pacemakers and defibrillators, and this has resulted in many guidant lawsuits.