Latest News

Two men sue company over design of defibrillator

Two area residents have filed federal class-action lawsuits over malfunctions they said could occur in Medtronic Inc. heart defibrillators implanted in more than a quarter-million patients. The lawsuits were filed against Minnesota-based Medtronic by Kenneth Carlile of Kansas City and Phillip S. Brown, a Johnson County resident. The complainants contend that Medtronic was negligent in its design of electronic wires – known as SprintFidelis leads – that connect the defibrillators to patients’ hearts. Medtronic in October voluntarily recalled the Sprint Fidelis wires because they can fracture, which causes them to give unnecessary shocks or not function at all. Medtronic said ... Read More

A patient an advocate a fixer

When it comes to her health, Laurel Lewis is positively fearless. The 54-year-old Minneapolis woman has stared down a rare breed of late-stage cancer. And last year, she technically died after her heart stopped beating, but luckily her near-fatal attack occurred just outside Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina. She left the hospital with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) made by Medtronic Inc. tucked inside her chest, a kind of medical-device insurance policy intended to shock her heart back into rhythm if she goes into sudden cardiac arrest. “I have faced the darkest day,” she said recently. But on Oct. 15, ... Read More

Kugel mesh patch a terrible ordeal

In 2003, when Janine Ryan’s (not her real name pending a lawsuit) mother, Sophia, had a Kugel Mesh hernia patch implanted, neither knew that there were any possible risks associated with the patch. But Sophia’s patch broke, causing her to experience severe pain and other serious problems. Like many other people, Ryan and Sophia are upset that they were never warned about the possibility of the Kugel Mesh patch breaking. In the spring of 2003, Sophia had a hernia operation in which the doctor used a Kugel Mesh patch to repair the hernia. Three years later, in the spring of ... Read More

Common MRI poisoning some kidney patients

If she knew then what she knows now, Sarah Fracella would not have undergone an MRI. “I don’t think there’s been a day in the last, probably, two years that’s gone by that I haven’t cried at least once about this,” said Fracella, 38, of Santa Barbara, whose skin is hardening painfully into something that looks startlingly like marble. Fracella is one of as many as 1,000 people worldwide who have contracted a debilitating, incurable and sometimes fatal disease called nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, or NSF, from the dye that is used in millions of magnetic resonance imaging scans every year. ... Read More

A family’s worst fear

It is a family’s worst fear realized. They entrust the care of a loved one to a nursing home facility, only to find evidence of neglect and abuse. It’s the situation the Graham family of Louisville, Ky., experienced in 2007, when Rev. Dennis Graham, just shy of his 55th birthday, died while a resident of Harborside Healthcare in Jefferson County. According to a report by local television station WAVE3 in November 2007, family members say Rev. Graham, who had required full-time nursing care since 1999 after a fall left him a quadriplegic with a serious brain injury, began a quick ... Read More

Defective Medtronic Sprint Fidelis lead fracture reports ignored by company

Medtronic Inc. knew that its Sprint Fidelis Defibrillator Leads were fracturing at higher-than-usual rates for months. Yet, the company appears to have dragged its feet in getting the defective Sprint Fidelis Lead off the market. Medtronic even went so far as to blame physicians for the problems, claiming that they weren’t implanting the defective Sprint Fidelis Lead properly. What’s even worse, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which never required the defective medical device to undergo clinical testing, was oblivious to the increasing reports of Sprint Fidelis Lead problems. Medtronic suspended sales of the Sprint Fidelis Leads in October, after ... Read More

Gadolinium contrast agents used off-label in MRAs pose even greater risk

Gadolinium based contrast agents used during MRIs, are known to be associated with the onset of Nephrogenic Systemic Fibrosis/ Nephrogenic Fibrosing Dermopathy (NSF/NSD) in patients with pre-existing kidney disease. But the use of gadolinium in a procedure call Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) could put these patients at an even greater risk of developing NSF/NSD, because these procedures often use far more gadolinium than a typical MRI. The use of gadolinium contrast agents in MRAs is a growing practice, even though the Food Drug Administration (FDA) never approved gadolinium for MRAs. An MRA is a variation of a traditional MRI that ... Read More

Patients concerned about Medtronic Sprint Fidelis leads

Patients who have been implanted with [Medtronic Sprint Fidelis Leads] are understandably concerned after learning that the leads have been linked to five fatalities. Some patients have undergone risky surgeries in order to have the leads removed after they malfunctioned. Meanwhile, [lawsuits] have been filed on behalf of patients who were injured by fractured leads. The leads were implanted into hundreds of thousands of patients who are now at risk of serious injury if their Sprint Fidelis Lead malfunctions. All unused leads were recalled by Medtronic on October 15, although Medtronic is actually referring to the recall as a “voluntary ... Read More

NorCal man blames MRI dyes for illness

An elderly man has sued several major health companies, claiming the dyes used to scan his failing kidneys caused a rare, painful and incurable disease. Peter Gerber, 72, of San Rafael, contends that injections of dyes containing the heavy metal gadolinium caused him to develop nephrogenic systemic fibrosis, or NSF. Also known as nephrogenic fibrosing demopathy, the disease can thicken the skin, stiffen joints, restrict movement and potentially lead to death if it affects internal organs. Only about 215 cases have been reported worldwide, all involving people with kidney disease. No cures have been reported but some patients have seen ... Read More

History of hernia patch raises questions on implant recalls

How do makers of implanted medical devices react when one of their products starts breaking? One answer can be found in the case of a hernia repair device made by a subsidiary of C. R. Bard Inc. In late 2005, the company sent out a recall, urging doctors to stop using some versions of the product because a plastic component could break and cut through a patient’s internal organs and tissue. At the time, Bard executives said they knew about some serious injuries potentially caused by the device, which is known as the Kugel patch. Since then, the Food and ... Read More