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Spinal-Cord Stimulators Injury Rates Among Highest of All Medical Devices

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Spinal-cord stimulators may be far more dangerous than previously understood, according to recent research. As part of a joint investigation into the medical device industry that involved more than 250 journalists and more than 50 news organizations, Associated Press research revealed that over 80,000 injuries involving the implantable devices had been reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 2008-the third-highest number for any type of medical device.

The stimulators are surgically implanted onto a patient's spinal cord, where they apply mild electrical currents to the nerves that connect a patient's brain to the area or body part where their pain is originating, keeping the pain signal from ever reaching the brain. Doctors who specialize in the implantation surgeries say that many of their patients have found relief with spinal-cord stimulators, and the devices' manufacturers insist that they're safe. In a country in the grips of an unprecedented opioid crisis, it's unsurprising that a long-term, drug-free method of pain control has become an increasingly popular option.

Nevertheless, the numbers are troubling. Of the 4,000 type of medical devices tracked by the FDA since 2008, only insulin pumps and artificial hip replacements had more reported injuries than spinal-cord stimulators. Additionally, compared to hip replacements, stimulators had a much higher rate of injuries to compared to the overall number of patients who have received one of the devices.

The injuries can be severe, as well-shocks, burns, spinal cord nerve damage to the point of paraplegia, and even death. Because many of the 500-plus reports of death had limited details, it was often difficult to tell whether the death was related to the stimulator itself or the surgery to implant it. But even less-extreme outcomes often resulted in the patient living with more pain than they had before they received the spinal-cord stimulator intended to treat it.

The intersection of products liability and medicine is a complex area of law, as it requires understanding of both the legal practice and the science of medicine. Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz is the oldest personal injury firm in Texas, and our attorneys can assist you with your claim. Call us today at 713-222-7211 or 1-800-870-9584 for your free consultation.

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