Patients with a Medtronic heart defibrillator have been advised by the company to consult their doctors about a “potentially” faulty wire attached to the devices, causing potential panic among patients.
On Sunday, Medtronic warned physicians to stop using the faulty wire, and by Monday, doctors office across the country were flooded with calls from their patients, who are trying to determine whether their implanted devices contain the defective wire. The wire, when operating properly, is supposed to assist the defibrillator in delivering a shock to the heart when it goes into a rhythm known as “ventricular fibrillation.” However, the faulty “leads”, as the wires are called, can malfunction and only signal the patient to check with their doctor, deliver a painful “body-rocking” shock, or fail entirely.
While Medtronic contends that only “2-3 percent” of the patients with the defective wire would experience a failure, patients and their doctors face the decision about whether to remove the wire, with its attendant risks, or leave it in place beside a replacement. Irregardless of the decision, removal carries a significant risk of damage to the heart and feeding the heart.
For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.