Medtronic Defibrillator

Implanted defibrillators save lives by preventing sudden heart failure. Medtronic defibrillators with defective Sprint Fidelis leads, and those which do not charge properly, can malfunction with deadly consequences. Defibrillators work by delivering an electric shock to the heart, resetting the rhythm or restarting a stopped heart. A defective defibrillator can deliver an unneeded shock to the heart or fail to administer a life-saving shock.

Sprint Fidelis Leads

Medtronic withdrew its Sprint Fidelis leads from the U.S. market in 2007. Implanted defibrillators deliver the shock to the heart through lead wires that are attached to the heart. Sprint Fidelis leads were recalled because they can fracture.

According to Medtronic, Sprint Fidelis lead have caused at least 13 deaths, some of which occurred during surgery to remove the defective leads. About 135,000 people still have the Sprint Fidelis leads inside of them.

Lead Fracture

Sprint Fidelis leads were very thin leads, designed to replace an older, thicker lead. They did not undergo extensive testing in human subjects before going on the market. It is believed that the thin design is what makes them weaker and more subject to fracture.

When a defibrillator lead cracks or breaks it can immediately deliver cause a massive, painful, and even fatal shock. Leads can also crack or break without causing any immediate event, leaving the patient unaware that there is a problem.

A fractured lead can cause the defibrillator to fail to administer a shock that is needed to prevent death. It can also cause chocks to be delivered when they are not needed. Either one can have deadly consequences.

Lead Removal Can be Deadly

At least four patients have died in surgery to remove the leads. When the recall was announced it was not recommended that people who already had the defective leads have them removed. Instead patients with Sprint Fidelis leads were advised to talk to their doctors and keep an eye out for signs of fracture.

As an alternative to removing the defective lead, a replacement lead can be added and the old lead can be capped and left in place.

Charging Problems

Faulty leads were not the first problem that Medtronic had with its defibrillators. In 2004, the company recalled two models of defibrillators because they were not charging properly. When the devices are not properly charged they can fail to deliver a needed shock or deliver a delayed shock.

If you have been injured by a Medtronic defibrillator, or if you have lost a loved one to a defibrillator malfunction, please find a Medtronic defibrillator injury lawyer in your area right away.