Understanding why tires blow out is essential to any driver’s ability to not only prevent a blowout, but also to handle their vehicle safely in the event one occurs.
A blowout refers to the popping of a tire due to a sudden or gradual decrease in air pressure. The decrease can be caused by a variety of things, including underinflation, unnoticed punctures by screws or nails, quick changes in weather temperature, and impact damage caused by hitting an object or pothole in the road. Anything that prevents the tire from being able to properly support the weight of the vehicle and allows air to escape quickly is a potential source of a blowout.
In the event of a blowout, drivers need to act quickly and calmly to prevent the vehicle from slamming into the driver in front of them or swerving to hit the drivers on either side of them. In the event of a blowout, which sounds like a loud explosion, the car will quickly decelerate and begin to pull hard to the left or right, depending on the side the tire blew out on. One can apply the accelerator to compensate for the sudden deceleration, while steering against the pull. This should help the vehicle stabilize and allow you to begin to slow down and pull over.
While seeing blown out tires on the side of the road is no big deal for the passerby, for the driver of the vehicle that was affected, it is anything but. Knowing why tires blow out can help prevent these accidents and better prepare us all.
Invokamet is a drug prescribed for the purpose of lowering blood sugar levels in combination with diet and exercise in adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It is comprised of two different drugs, Invokana (canagliflozin) and metformin and is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a division of Johnson & Johnson. Canagliflozin is supposed to assist the kidneys in removing glucose from the bloodstream and metformin is designed to lower glucose production in the liver and allow the intestines to absorb less glucose. The manufacturer cites a potential side benefit of incidental weight loss for patients with type 2 diabetes, as well.
In addition to the potential benefits of Invokamet, however, the drug also carries with it the risk of various side effects, many of which may result in very serious or potentially life-threatening consequences for the patient. Common side effects include urinary tract infection, yeast infection, stomach discomfort, diarrhea, frequent urination, muscle pain, shortness of breath, and nausea. The list of grave possibilities includes lactic acidosis, a buildup of lactic acid in the blood which can cause death, diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) (an increased level of ketones in the blood), serious kidney injury, serious urinary tract infection, increased risk of heart attack, and broken bones. In particular, two of these maladies can be either very confusing and/or very difficult to detect. In the case of lactic acidosis, a number of the most common side effects cited by the manufacturer’s warnings (nausea/ vomiting, muscle pain, feeling weak or tired) may also be symptoms of this condition, leading to confusion by the patient as to whether or not they should seek emergency help. In the case of DKA, there is a particular risk that blood glucose levels may appear normal when tested, potentially resulting in delayed diagnosis or treatment.
Over the last two years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued several warnings about use of Invokamet. In September 2015, they warned that the drug might cause an increased risk of bone fractures and potentially cause a decrease in bone density. In December 2015, they warned that the drug had been linked to a number of serious side effects that might result in hospitalization or require emergency room treatment, including serious blood infections, kidney injury, diabetic ketoacidosis, urosepsis, kidney infection, and renal failure. In January 2016, the FDA mandated that Janssen make changes to their labeling indicating use of the drug may entail an increased risk of acute kidney injury. In May 2016, they warned that it may also cause an increased risk of leg, foot, or toe amputation.
Prior to the warnings, there were at least 73 confirmed cases of diabetic ketoacidosis and 19 cases of blood or kidney infection reported. Lawsuits now contend that the manufacturer, Janssen, was aware of the potential hazards and side effects of taking Invokamet prior to the issuance of these warnings by the FDA, but nevertheless failed to warn either doctors or patients. The contention is that if warned, doctors would have prescribed differently for patients with type 2 diabetes and patients would have been monitored much more closely for conditions such as signs of heart issues, renal impairment, or high ketone levels.
Thousands of lawsuits have been filed by patients who have been harmed by taking Invokamet. Many have resulted in large settlements for reimbursement of medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages, or for other compensable losses available through a wrongful death claim. It is important to note, there is no class action lawsuit on this against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. Any litigation by patients adversely affected by Invokamet, must be initiated by the individual. There has also been no broad settlement from the manufacturer, as of yet. Many cases are still in litigation and can take up to several years to resolve. Nonetheless, if you have been a victim of any of these adverse and serious side effects and wish to pursue litigation, you should consult with an experienced lawyer to discuss your options.
What is an Endoscopy Examination?
An endoscopy is a procedure that a doctor uses to see inside the esophagus (throat), the stomach, and the upper section of the small intestine. The medical tool that is used is called an endoscope, and it is made up of a camera mounted on a thin, bendable scope that is flexible enough to slide down the throat and take pictures of the parts that need to be examined. The doctor can record images and see the areas on a television screen. There is some general concern that a patient can fall victim to endoscope bacterial infections from the treatment.
The procedure is often used to diagnose various health problems. The danger of endoscope bacterial infections is from the use of contaminated endoscopes. The endoscopes can become sullied from blood, other body fluids, or bacteria during routine use. After use, they must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The problem is that due to how they are constructed, it is hard to get them 100% clean. Sensitive scopes may break down from intense heat. Bacteria can form on the inside surfaces, and as a result, infections related to endoscope use can be spread from person to person. There are two basic types of contamination. One is a scope contaminated by a prior patient, and the other is contamination from a patient’s own bacteria.
What Are Endoscope Bacterial Infections, and Why Are They So Dangerous?
That is the question on many people’s minds who have received the examination. The headlines that have captured everyone’s attention are about a ‘super bug,’ called CRE, that is resistant to drugs and other treatments. These types of endoscope bacterial infections are hard for doctors to manage and, in some cases, lead to death. Some of the symptoms of having the ‘superbug’ vary from person to person. After an endoscope procedure it is wise to be on the lookout for the following:
- Swelling or Soreness
- Under the Skin Sores That Don’t Heal
There are very few antibiotics that can cure a CRE infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the death rate from CRE might be as high as 50%. This is the reason CRE has earned the reputation of a “killer bacteria.”
The Case of Antonia Cerda
The Estate of Antonia Cerda, a 48-year-old wife and mother, has sued Olympus Corp. of the Americas, a leading endoscope manufacturer in Los Angeles, for wrongful death. Allegedly, high-level executives at Olympus chose not to warn hospitals in the U.S. about the “superbug” infection that occurred from using their scopes. Mrs. Cerda became ill and eventually passed away from an endoscope bacterial infection from a contaminated endoscope. The suit also accuses Olympus of negligence for selling a “defective” scope and presenting it as safe to use. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the design of the Olympus scope is such that endoscope bacterial infections may remain even after being cleaned according to Olympus’s exact specifications. This puts each patient receiving an examination at risk. The FDA said that Olympus failed to prove that the scope could be thoroughly cleaned. Mrs. Cerda is survived by her spouse and four children.
If Infected, It Is Important to Get Help
The Senate Health Committee released a report in January 2016 stating that Olympus knew their scopes could transmit infection as far back as 2012 but failed or chose not to warn the FDA, physicians, and hospitals until three years later. During that time, hundreds of patients became infected. On January 15, 2016, Olympus recalled the scopes in question for a redesign, hopefully lowering the risk of infections.
Anyone who has had an endoscopic examination before January 15, 2016, should be aware of associated symptoms and consult a doctor for any questions. For any individual that may have been injured, or has a family member that has died, it is recommended to consult with an attorney. An attorney can steer a victim through challenging and traumatic times, and help seek financial compensation to assist with medical bills, lost income, and more.
By now, many people in the U.S. have heard of the Zika virus, as it dominated the airwaves for much of late 2015 and early 2016. The sudden conversation regarding the virus may make it seem like Zika has only been around for a short time, but it was actually discovered in Uganda back in 1947. It bears resemblance to yellow fever and West Nile, the latter of which has a consistent presence in Texas. Zika is always much more common around the Equator and in areas that produce a tropical or subtropical climate, but until recently, Zika was confined to Africa and Asia. In 2015, though, an outbreak in Brazil brought disease fears closer to the U.S., and with the onset of summer, areas of Florida and Texas are now at risk of localized spread of the virus.
Zika is an Emerging Threat
Zika is primarily spread through mosquito activity, and Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in particular. The Aedes aegypti prefers warmer climates, though the CDC believes it could migrate as far north as New York City. Aedes aegypti populations are expected to be more common and more concentrated in areas along the Gulf Coast, especially in cities like Houston. That’s because Aedes aegypti, according to the CDC, is well adapted to surviving in areas that humans inhabit, and have adapted to surviving and finding sources of water inside homes.
Zika is a low-level threat to most people, and in most cases, the patient will experience no symptoms. When symptoms are present, they typically include fever, rash, joint pain and headaches. These symptoms almost always resolve within a week, with no lasting complications. In some rare instances, though, Zika can result in Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can be life threatening and involves spreading muscle weakness and pain.
The most worrying element of the Zika outbreak, though, is the damage it can do to developing fetuses. The New England Journal of Medicine published evidence regarding Zika complications in April 2016, and confirmed the link between Zika infection in fetuses and microcephaly. Microcephaly is a devastating birth defect that refers to a dramatically reduced brain and head size in newborns. This condition is irreversible and cognitive outcomes are generally poor. Children born with microcephaly tend to live shorter lives, as well.
Although testing methods have improved in recent months, it’s still extremely difficult for a pregnant woman to know whether she has contracted Zika, and for her doctor to detect complications with the pregnancy related to Zika infection. For this reason, pregnant women living or traveling within the range of Aedes aegypti are encouraged to ward off mosquitos with repellants and long sleeved clothing.
Vaccines are being developed to combat Zika, but even though initial human trials are already underway, some researchers believe it could take years before a vaccine is approved for use by the public.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is already taking note of product manufacturers looking to capitalize on Zika fears. In fact, the FTC sent out several warning letters to manufacturers in August alone, and the letter states that product manufacturers must do the following if they are going to market their products as a way to prevent Zika infection:
- If the manufacturer claims that its products repel Aedes aegypti, then the manufacturer must produce human clinical testing that specifically includes methodology relevant to the Aedes aegypti mosquito. It’s not enough for a clinical test to demonstrate effectiveness to mosquitos in general – it must target Aedes aegypti in particular.
- If the manufacturer claims that its product provides full body protection (even if only applied to a small area), then the manufacturer must produce reliable, competent scientific evidence that this is indeed the case.
- If a manufacturer has made such claims without scientific evidence, they must immediately remove those claims from their marketing materials or they face legal consequences.
In addition to fines and forced recalls, companies in violation of FTC rules may be ordered to pay back consumers. It’s a problem that comes under the purview of state attorney general offices as well. New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman confirmed in early August that his office has already sent out cease and desist letters to several companies, threatening them with legal action if they do not stop marketing products claiming to prevent Zika infection.
Product manufacturers that are likely to be in violation of FTC standards include those marketing ultrasonic repellers, botanical oils, wristband repellants, anti-Zika spray repellants and even anti-Zika condoms (because the virus can also spread through sexual contact).
Product manufactures that make these claims without providing sufficient evidence may also expose themselves to class-action lawsuits from consumers, especially among those that purchased the product and then later suffered from a Zika infection.
Zika and Liability
Twenty-nine confirmed cases of Zika have already been detected in Houston, though all 29 victims were infected while traveling to Central or South America. This still represents a significant health hazard, as mosquitoes that bite infected people can then go on to infect others. And though there haven’t been any confirmed cases of locally transmitted Zika in Houston (at least as of late August 2016), county and city health experts believe it is only a matter of time before it does happen.
It’s up to pregnant women and their doctors, then, to protect themselves, and pregnant women in particular should expect their doctor to take every step necessary to detect the Zika virus. Blood and urine testing can confirm a Zika case, and should be done if a pregnant woman has any reason to believe they have been exposed to Aedes aegypti bites. These tests are improving all the time, and doctors should always provide the most current version to ensure optimal speed and accuracy for a diagnosis. Testing is essential for providing pregnant women with all the information they need to make decisions regarding their pregnancy. Doctors that do not provide adequate testing are doing their patients a disservice, and may be liable if they do not detect a Zika case in time for a pregnant woman to respond appropriately.
Zika can spread through sexual contact, so people must also take steps to inform their sexual partners and reduce the chances of transmitting the disease. The CDC has confirmed that Zika can survive longer in semen than in other bodily fluids, and that condoms can reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus. Safe sex practices, then, are considered a must for men who have been exposed to Aedes aegypt.
Finally, a municipality may be liable for Zika cases if local counties and cities do not properly monitor and react to the spread of the virus. This can be difficult to prove, and Houston is taking significant steps in monitoring Zika. For example, according to Microsoft, its drones are surveying Houston mosquito hotspots to detect and trap mosquito populations for further study – an initiative known as Project Premonition. According to a Microsoft news release, Project Premonition is already generating hundreds of gigabytes of mosquito data every week in Houston, helping city officials and epidemiologists map the virus’s progress into the city.
The fight against Zika is just beginning, and how doctors, governments and others react to it will determine how it spreads, where it spreads, and if it even spreads at all. But until the battle over Zika is won, people need to stay informed.
It’s no mystery why so many victims neglect to seek out the assistance of burn injury lawyers. Between the painful recovery, the social stigma, and the persuasive attempts of those at fault, seeking legal aid can seem like a minor consideration, or even a detrimental course of action. But proper legal representation is one of the most important parts of the recovery process due to the nature of insurance and our medical system.
A burn victim already has a lot to deal with, and it can be difficult to ensure that one is receiving the appropriate medical attention from the confines of a hospital bed. When this kind of incident is the result of negligence on the part of an employer or other person or entity charged with maintaining the safety of those exposed to harm, victims can find themselves harassed and pressured into silence. A lot of these cases result in the victim being blamed for someone else’s negligence.
Those that have been harmed by the negligence of others deserve to have legal representation assist them in ensuring that their medical needs are properly tended to. Even if you’re not the suing type, a consultation with reputable burn injury lawyers will help you determine if you’ve been wronged, and what you can do about it.
Sometimes, the victims can’t make this call for themselves because of the nature and extent of their injuries. If you know someone in such a circumstance, the best thing you can do to protect them and their interests is to speak with reputable burn injury lawyers that will be able to determine if they have grounds for a legal claim.
Aviation accident causes are many, but most fall into four distinct categories: pilot error, mechanical failure, inclement weather, and air traffic controller error. Of the four, pilot error is by far the most common. No one is perfect and everyone makes a mistake sooner or later. Unfortunately, when a major mistake is made by a pilot, the consequences can be severe.
While flight is generally the safest way to travel, it can be considerably less safe in small planes with private pilots. A large percentage of accidents occur in private planes. Unfortunately, when things go wrong at high altitudes or during high-speed landings, the results can be fatal.
Mechanical failure is the next most common of the four aviation accident causes outlined here. Mechanical failure can occur for a variety of reasons, including improper installation, poor maintenance, or a manufacturing issue with one of the many parts onboard.
The third most common reason for aircraft accidents is inclement weather. Poor weather can cause numerous problems with an aircraft. Potential issues include ignition of fuel tanks or electrical outages by way of a lightning strike, or lack of visibility while attempting to navigate or land.
Air traffic controller error is the fourth most common cause of accidents. Generally speaking, air traffic controllers are highly trained and specialized professionals who operate with a variety of safeguards and protocols. However, every now and then something may go wrong, unfortunately with potentially dire consequences.
When suffering from depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or another mental health condition, people may struggle to find relief. If other treatments fail, doctors may prescribe from a wide array of medications. However, certain prescription meds like Abilify (ariprazole) can cause compulsive gambling and other trigger-based obsessive behaviors.
Mental disorders such as depression are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Two of the main chemicals (otherwise known as neurotransmitters) in the brain are dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is associated with the part of the brain that recognizes pleasure, happiness, and reward, and compels us to act in our lives to receive said rewards and pleasures. For instance, if someone is depressed, their dopamine level may be low, causing them to recognize that they need to clean the house and that they would feel better if it was clean, but they feel unable to physically act and begin the cleaning process. Serotonin, on the other hand, sends signals between nerve cells and is the main regulator of our mood and libido. A low level of serotonin could result in a low or depressed state of mind. Any imbalance of these two chemicals can cause mental disorders. Drugs like Abilify are intended to correct any imbalance by either decreasing or increasing dopamine or serotonin in the brain.
Compulsive behavior is defined as any act that is repeated persistently. A compulsion can begin as an activity that brings someone joy, such as winning a friendly bet. Over time, however, the compulsion can start to become unfulfilling, no longer bringing pleasure, or even to the point where it causes harm. Eventually, the person continues the act regardless of whether they feel it is good for them or not, much like an addiction.
So how is Abilify linked to compulsive gambling? The drug, which generated over $6 billion in 2013 alone, acts on the receptors of the brain for serotonin and dopamine. In a normal brain, these chemicals respond appropriately to pleasurable activities. However, the active ingredient in this popular drug can over-stimulate the receptors, allowing for an overdose of sorts on dopamine. This high that is experienced after activities such as sex, gambling, or overeating becomes increasingly addicting and almost impossible to stop.
Multiple case studies have been conducted to prove the connection between Abilify and compulsive gambling. Yet the manufacturer (Bristol-Myers Squibb) continues to not only sell the drug as an add-on to other anti-depressants, but also advertises it as a quick solution to depression. Commercial ads even state that some patients saw relief from depression symptoms in as early as one to two weeks. Aside from brief mentions of “unusual behavior,” televised ads do not warn consumers of the potential for compulsions to gamble. In fact, the manufacturer did not include any type of warning on Abilify regarding compulsive gambling until November 2015, even though drug regulators in Europe had been aware of the dangerous potential since November 2012. As a result, lawsuits have been filed on behalf of plaintiffs who claim that Bristol-Myers Squibb was aware of or should have been aware of the potential for compulsions to gamble and failed to properly inform consumers. Damages to cover financial losses as well as compensation for pain and suffering have been sought.
A case example of a lawsuit regarding the connection between Abilify and compulsive gambling is Nicholas Meyer’s case in Indiana. Meyer claimed that after beginning the drug in November 2010, he developed a previously non-existent compulsion to gamble. He claimed his addiction lost him over $45,000 and that “the injurious impact… on [his] brain constitutes a physical injury, and as a result… [he] has suffered, and will continue to suffer, neuro-psychiatric and physical injury, emotional distress, harm, and economic loss.” After Meyer had discontinued use of Abilify, he claimed his compulsive gambling stopped. In situations like Meyer’s, the urge to gamble becomes uncontrollable and can result in terrible ramifications such as emotional pain and mental suffering.
The devastation that a gambling addiction can cause to a family is remarkable. Accumulating massive amounts of debt, draining a family’s life savings, and/or lying and hiding reckless actions from a spouse can tear families apart. If you or someone you know has taken Abilify and suffers from compulsive gambling, speaking with an attorney may help you understand your legal rights and help determine if your case warrants a lawsuit.
Onglyza and Kombiglyze are two of the many drugs intended for use in Type 2 diabetes patients. They are also known by their trade names saxagliptin and metformin, respectively. At one time, both were considered to be promising front-line options in the fight against the diabetes epidemic, and though they do provide some symptom resolution, research is also uncovering some problematic risks with these medications. And the research is only beginning, along with legal action against the drugs’ manufacturers – Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca.
The Many Dangers of New Diabetic Drugs
Saxagliptin hit the market in 2007 and metformin in 1995, though they had been known for a while before that. In pharmaceutical terms, that makes metformin and saxagliptin young, and they aren’t the first promising, new diabetic drugs to eventually find their way into the crosshairs. Several drugs that behave like saxagliptin have been developed and marketed under other names, and also produced worrying effects.
According to Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca, and later confirmed by several scientific papers, saxagliptin and metformin are effective at reducing the concentration of glucose in the blood. It’s not completely understood how Onglyza and Kombiglyze produce their effects, but it is known that they inhibit the production of glucose by the liver. In a patient with Type 2 diabetes, the rate of glucose production in the liver is three times that of a healthy person. By taking saxagliptin and metformin, this rate of glucose production can be cut by a third.
Those are significant benefits, but at what cost? Of the two, saxagliptin is generating more attention, specifically due to an April 2016 FDA statement calling for additional warnings on the drug’s packaging. This warning regarded heart failure, as it is one of the most serious and more common complications due to saxagliptin use. This came after a review of approximately 16,500 patients using the medication. Of these, more than 1,200 reported a major cardiovascular event. This may have included heart attack, stroke, or a deep thrombotic event, all of which can be fatal. Currently, Onglyza and Kombiglyze are considered serious threats to heart health, and during the FDA review, 14 of 15 reviewers agreed to add additional warnings. The 15th reviewer recommended withdrawing saxagliptin from the U.S. market completely.
Although yet to be confirmed, medications like saxagliptin and metformin are also believed to potentially harm the pancreas. A 2013 study regarding some diabetic inhibitors found that when the medication was administered to rats, it caused several changes to the pancreas, some of which could directly lead to pancreatic cancer. A review by the FDA and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have not found the same link in humans, but representatives from the FDA acknowledge that further research will be needed to disprove the link.
And that research may not come soon enough. Some victims of these dangerous drugs are already taking legal action against Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca. A multi-district lawsuit involving 53 cases was filed on August 26, 2013, concerning four branded diabetes drugs. Saxagliptin and metformin are among the drugs involved in the claim. The litigation was pushed forward because the 53 cases involved highly similar case histories, including an onset of pancreatic cancer. Such cases may set a precedent for Onglyza and Kombiglyze lawsuits.
Another worrisome case involves a Chicago woman who died in October 2013, after three years of taking saxagliptin. According to the woman’s daughter, who filed the lawsuit on her behalf, the victim suffered a heart attack just one year after being prescribed the drug and had to be hospitalized. In 2013, the victim had to be hospitalized twice more for heart complications before dying from heart failure.
Clearly, people have reason to be skeptical of Onglyza and Kombiglyze. Personal injury attorneys are also concerned about the safety research surrounding both drugs, and can use the latest scientific findings to help build a case for a victim. By the time patients realize their diabetes drugs are causing their heart or pancreas problems, it might be too late. The drug manufacturers who rush products to market and ignore and/or suppress critical research findings should be held accountable for the injuries they cause and the lives they disrupt.
It may seem like media hype to suggest exploding e-cigarettes are a concern for consumers, but what was once considered an anomaly is now getting the attention it deserves. Millions of Americans use vapor devices as an alternative to smoking, and they do so because they believe that vaping is safer. But there is a major problem concerning the lithium-ion batteries that are installed in vaping devices, and it’s causing serious injuries.
An Unregulated Industry
It’s a dangerous combination – an industry flooded with cheaply made products and an industry that is unregulated. Even though vaping devices have been around for years, there is still little oversight of product safety and quality. This is especially dangerous where it concerns lithium-ion batteries, which are installed in nearly every vaping device on the market. Although U.S. consumers have grown accustomed to lithium-ion batteries in all of their favorite electronic devices, such as cell phones and tablets, they can be extremely dangerous if not manufactured to standard. Any defect in the battery’s manufacturing can cause it to destabilize with use, and then rupture and detonate if the conditions are right.
Because regulators haven’t caught up to the industry, there are few statistics available regarding exploding e-cigarettes. Although one such statistic comes from the U.S. Fire Administration, which confirms that between 2009 and 2014, 25 people were injured by defective vaping devices. However, this number surely underestimates the trend, as the popularity of vaping has increased dramatically in the previous few years, according to industry experts.
So, too, has the incidence rate of defective products causing injuries. Harborview Medical Center in Seattle is one of a handful of burn units that has become familiar with exploding e-cigarettes. According to the burn unit, at least one person every month is admitted to their department with injuries resulting from a malfunctioning vaping device. And in most cases, these injuries are serious enough to require skin grafting. Even then, they often leave permanent scarring.
Rachel Berven is among the victims of poorly made vaping devices. In March, she filed legal action against a retailer that, she claims, sold her a defective vaping product. Her incident occurred in February, a month prior. Berven had, like many others, switched from smoking to vaping to preserve her health, but in February, while the device was in her mouth, it exploded, tearing a gaping wound in her face, spraying battery acid across her body and legs, and cracking three of her teeth.
A Bomb in the Battery
The U.S. Fire Administration has found that battery malfunctions are the only known cause of exploding e-cigarettes, and in 80% of cases, the incident occurs when the battery is being charged. It is during charging that the battery is often stressed the most, especially if it is accidentally overcharged, which is more likely to happen when using an off-brand charger. Still, this means 20% of incidents happen while the device is in operation.
And even if the device isn’t charging, it can still present a significant risk. For example, in Scotland, a man died when his device caught fire near an oxygen tank, which then exploded violently. From an engineering standpoint, vaping devices are unique in how they behave when their batteries malfunction. Their compact design means that when the battery fails and ignites, it acts like a rocket, expelling ignited fuel (in this case, battery acid) at incredible speeds. It’s this force that produces the explosion, and also why so many victims are left with deep tissue damage as a result of the product’s failure.
With little help from regulatory agencies, it is up to consumers to choose products that can be trusted. Cheap, poorly made parts are behind most of the product failures, so consider such devices with skepticism. And when injury does occur, victims should hold the negligent manufacturers and retailers accountable.
Fortunately, this message is gaining ground, as more and more lawsuits are expected against device manufacturers and retailers in the near future.
The Zimmer Persona knee replacement, like many joint replacements, is intended for use in patients that are suffering from frequent pain and loss of mobility in the affected area. In the vast majority of cases, joint replacement surgeries are for patients over 50 years of age, as this is when arthritis becomes more common. However, the Persona is different, as it was designed for use in younger patients. These are patients that have injured their knees in sports or other activities, and the device is meant to mimic the action of younger, more active joints. Unfortunately, the unique design hasn’t made it immune to many of the same problems that other joint replacements have, and these complications can leave a patient in terrible shape.
An Industry-Wide Recall
In March 2015, Zimmer instituted a voluntary recall for all of its Persona knee replacement devices. In response, the FDA instituted its own Class II recall for the knee replacement components, a recall believed to have affected 11,658 devices. A Class II recall means the device or drug in question may cause temporary adverse health consequences if a patient is exposed for a period of time. However, some experts believe this underestimates the impact that a faulty Persona knee replacement can have on a patient.
According to the company, the recall was done in response to reports of radiolucent lines and component loosening. The component loosening is easy to understand, as medical devices can and do frequently loosen following installation. This can cause components to drift and contact other tissues in the body. A situation that can result in serious pain and tearing.
The radiolucent lines, an obscure medical term, is much more unsettling. Technically, it refers to areas on X-rays that are visible. When used in this context, it means that doctors are noticing, through X-rays, that spaces are building up and widening between parts of the implant. When a doctor notices radiolucent lines on imaging, it signals that serious underlying complications are likely developing. For example, fluid may seep into cracks in the implant, exerting more and more pressure until it snaps apart. Fluid and tissue buildup in the implant can also create pressure on surrounding bone, damaging it in a process known as osteolysis.
If unchecked, osteolysis can cause total bone failure and fractures, a complication that is well-known to doctors managing joint replacement cases. Even worse, when an implant fails, additional surgeries are required to remove or repair it, and this entails other risks, such as damage to nerves. While the FDA may classify such complications as temporary, some victims would likely take issue with that.
A History of Product Issues
About a month before Zimmer recalled its Persona knee replacement components, it sent an urgent notice to doctors, hospitals, and surgeons, telling them to immediately quarantine all Persona components. It’s a process that Zimmer is all too familiar with.
In recent years, many medical devices have been pulled from the market for failure rates, and as one of the largest device manufacturers in the world, Zimmer has been among the companies required to do so.
In 2008, Zimmer instituted a short recall for its Durom Cup hip replacements. Zimmer representatives claimed that the recall was necessary because surgeons performing the procedure were not trained well enough. However, several experts, including one of Zimmer’s own paid consultants, found that the implant’s circular edge made it nearly impossible to keep it in place.
In 2010, Zimmer was required to recall approximately 70,000 MIS Tibial devices, also due to early loosening. And in 2014, the company’s flagship product, the NexGen Knee replacement, couldn’t escape the pattern of recalls when more than 40,000 were removed due to defective screws.
Zimmer has dealt with several waves of lawsuits as a result of its defective implants, and partitioned $70 million alone for damages resulting from the Durom Cup. Similar funds have been allocated for NexGen and MIS failures, and other funds will likely be set aside due to Persona failures.
A knee replacement failure is a medical nightmare for victims, with pain and extensive tissue damage among the common complications. It can take years to recover from a joint replacement failure, and in some cases, complications may be permanent. It’s important, then, that victims consult with an attorney as soon as possible to explore their potential legal claim.