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Despite potential, spinal cord stimulation devices in question

There is risk in life. That's just part of the package, whether you live in Maryland or some other state. As safe as we would like to be from any harm that might occur, there is no way to prevent every possible source of personal injury. That said, when you allow a medical professional to surgically implant a medical device into your body on the promise that it is going to provide a significant benefit, you have a right to consider legal action if it actually does more harm than good.

There are regulatory systems in place to minimize the chances of faulty medical devices reaching the market. But as recent reporting by The Associated Press shows, some public safety advocates are beginning to wonder whether the lead agency in this regard, the Food and Drug Administration, is putting consumers at risk in favor of making it easier for manufacturers to feed their bottom lines.

Among the devices under special media scrutiny are spinal-cord stimulator implants. While these have been touted by companies and doctors as the answer for delivering relief to millions of people for all sorts of chronic pains, AP and other investigative journalists have found they are perhaps more dangerous than anyone could imagine - causing shocks, burns, and even greater muscle and nerve damage that leaves some patients virtually paralyzed.

This is not groundbreaking news, however. There have been members of the medical profession speaking out about the drawbacks of spinal cord stimulation for years. The biggest of them being that success with the most traditional therapy is rather hit and miss. Only about half of those receiving the most commonly used low-frequency stimulation experience meaningful pain reduction.

In one case reported by the AP, a 45-year-old patient's stimulation device first failed, requiring surgery to repair it. Then the unit repeatedly shocked him to the point that he lost sleep. Then he fell down the stairs. Today he's effectively bedridden.

Victims of faulty medical devices have possible recourse when they suffer injury. Manufacturers and doctors may be held liable if they fail to warn patients of the risks or otherwise act negligently. But there often limits to potential action imposed by state law. To be certain of all options, those with questions should consult with a knowledgeable attorney.

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