Medical devices failing patients

Medical devices failing patients

The BBC has reported that the rules around medical devices, such as implanted contraceptives, hip replacements and pacemakers, need to drastically change in order to protect patients. This is according to the Royal College of Surgeons, a professional body that works to promote and advance standards of surgical care, which wants a register of every device in every patient to be established so that doctors know if new innovations are causing harm. “There needs to be compulsory registration of every new device and implant that goes into a patient in the UK,” said Professor Derek Alderson, President of the Royal College of Surgeons.

According to the BBC, an investigation by 58 media organisations uncovered patients being given implants that were unsafe, and the government has said that it will look at changes that may be required. BBC Panorama has been investigating the industry with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and organisations around the world including The Guardian newspaper and the British Medical Journal. Horrifyingly, they said that they found implants being put into people after failing in trials, some involving baboons or after tests only on pigs and dead bodies.

The BBC highlighted that not all medical devices are dangerous, but some are failing patients, including: implants that cracked inside people's backs and had failed in baboon tests; birth control implants that caused internal damage and bleeding; misfiring implantable defibrillators; and mesh implants for incontinence that caused abdominal pain. It said that, for anyone concerned, a panel of experts put together by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has put together some advice: “Your first point of call should be the medical team that performed the operation. If you cannot go back to them for whatever reason, you should consult your primary care doctor. The doctor should be able to refer you to a specialist who is familiar with the device and the surgery you had.”

The UK's Royal College of Surgeons has called for “drastic regulatory changes”. Although new medical device regulation will come into force in Europe in 2020, campaigners say the new rules do not go far enough.