With advancements in the field of medicine, health care providers prescribe drugs and recommend the use of medical devices for the betterment of patients. However, when manufacturers rush new products in the market by focusing on the profit aspects of the business, there are chances that the health of the patient is compromised. Faulty products such as medical devices and drugs cause serious injuries to patients, thus leading to product liability lawsuits.
It is important to emphasize that manufacturers have a legal obligation to adequately test new drugs or products prior to their introduction in the market, and ensure the safety of customers. Medical products and pharmaceuticals are the category of products that often end up with product liability cases. The defective medical product or drug can gravely affect the health of the patient and can even be life-threatening. It is the legal right of the patient to take an informed decision based on the information provided with the product that highlights potential risks associated with the product or drug.
This implies that customers can file product liability lawsuits in such circumstances. Attorneys handling product liability claims can hold accountable everyone in the chain of distribution of the defective product including manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacy, hospital and healthcare providers.
Product liability medical record review is the basic step attorneys adopt to extract relevant data to establish the claims of the plaintiff. By examining the medical records, attorneys can identify the injury caused by the device or drug. This forms part of the discovery process, which would subsequently act as corroborating evidence in the litigation phase.
Product liability claims can be broadly classified into two:
- Pharmaceutical-drug related claims
- Claims involving medical devices
Pharmaceutical-drug related claims
If a person is injured or made ill due to a pharmaceutical prescription, the patient has legal grounds to file a defective pharmaceutical lawsuit.
Pharmaceutical liability claims are based on the factors mentioned below:
- Manufacturing defects
- Drugs with dangerous side effects
- Falsely marketed pharmaceutical drugs
- Pharmaceutical drugs that are defectively manufactured: When the drug is improperly manufactured or becomes tainted during the production process, this type of claim can be filed as lawsuit. Defective manufacturing can arise when there are anomalies while labeling the medicine or erroneously adding unwanted ingredients to the drug while manufacturing. This can happen at the factory where the drug is manufactured or during the shipping. The manufacturers or distributors are liable for these errors.
- Drugs with dangerous side effects: The side effects of drugs can seriously injure a person and even cause death. The potential risks of these drugs are discovered only after a long time of their introduction in the market. For example, the consequences of the drugs that contain carcinogenic elements can be identified only after their usage for a period of time. In these situations, mass tort litigation can be filed. The defender of the plaintiff can claim that the manufacturer was negligent of the potential risks of the drug. If proven, the manufacturer is liable to pay a huge compensation to the victim in the form of punitive damages.
- Falsely marketed pharmaceutical drugs: This category of claims occurs when the victim believes that the drug was marketed without proper warnings or instructions about its usage. Non-disclosure of vital information or exaggeration of untrue facts about the drugs also constitute false marketing of the product. This is referred to as “bad advice claim” and this implies that the manufacturer, pharmacist or doctor can be held responsible for delivering inadequate information to the victim.
In a product liability case, a combination of these claims can be filed. If a poorly packed drug is devoid of warnings or instructions, claims related to defective manufacturing and false marketing are applicable.
Product liability claims involving medical devices
Patients with serious health conditions may require complex medical devices like implants, stents, defibrillators, kidney dialysis filters and pacemakers. Any defect in these devices can result in injury or death to the patient which is undesirable. In such circumstances, the injured patient can bring a product liability claim against the manufacturer, distributor and even physician. They are liable for the injuries caused and can be made accountable for the same through lawsuits.
These claims are based on the below given factors:
- Defects in design of the medical devices
- Marketing defects
Defects in design of the medical devices
In this category, the victim can allege that the entire line of the product is defective, making the entire process of lawsuit complex. Defect in product design has the potential to cause injury to the patient. It can happen that the manufacturer has not mentioned the risk in the blueprint or failed to anticipate the damage that might happen to the device. Plaintiffs can defend their claims by pointing out that there was a safe alternative design that ensured patient safety.
Marketing of medical devices without giving proper instructions and warnings are liable under the theory of failure to warn. Doctors, healthcare providers and hospitals are also liable, if they don’t provide safety instructions to the patient.
Litigants involved in a product liability case
The defendants involved in product liability claims depend upon the nature of the case and the plaintiff can sue any of the parties given below in the lawsuit
- Hospitals, healthcare providers
- Sales representatives
Product liability lawsuits are long-drawn out as a huge amount of money is at stake. These complex claims are handled by attorneys specializing in medico-legal cases. Reliable medical record review services are essential for steering these cases in the right direction as medical records are the authentic source that help to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and the actual medical aspects involved.