Sooner or later, they’re going to get one right

When I was growing up, Dad always had workshop.  One of the mantra’s I heard him repeat (and find myself repeating to my kids) is “measure twice, cut once.”  That is, make sure the part fits before you make it permanent.  The parents of the good people of Zimmer apparently never imparted such wisdom to their kids.

41Z6K8E2MNL._SX300_

Zimmer has now had to recall a part of its Persona artificial knee implant, specifically, the Persona porous coated, uncemented trabecular metal tibial plate.  Say that three times fast.  It seems that Zimmer began selling its knee implant without doing any clinical trials first.  This is the same problem Stryker had with its hip implants recently.

Zimmer Persona knee components can become loose, causing swelling and pain, and develop radiolucent lines – large gaps between the parts of the implant and the bones – which can damage both the bones (called osteolysis) and the device itself.

What does this mean to you:

A couple of rhetorical questions come to mind.  Shouldn’t companies that make products, especially ones that get implanted inside your body, have to test them first?  And how does one actually recall a device AFTER its been implanted?

In addition, Marlboro will sponsor the Komen 5k race

Mark Twain once said that golf is a good walk spoiled.  Truth be told, I  tend to agree with him.  But people nonetheless seem to enjoy the activity, whether they’re out strolling the fairway or going for the long ball.

hip

Hopefully, then, the irony was not lost this week when it was announced that the PGA Tour would be sponsored by – wait for it – Stryker Orthopedics.  Yes, that Stryker Orthopedics.  The one that made 20,000 defective ABG II and Rejuvenate metal hip implants.  The ones that would be bad for golfers (or anyone else who likes to, you know, move) to use.

What does this mean to you:

Remember that advertising and corporate sponsorship can be as much about framing and creating a positive public image as about selling products.

And in other news, people no longer buying Ford Pintos

Change is hard.  I get it.  The people in the horse and buggy business probably didn’t like to see the advent of the automobile.  But as technology changes, especially in the the area of safety improvements, business must change and adapt along with it.

secret handshake

It is disappointing, then, but perhaps not surprising, to learn that many manufactures of table saws, such as Bosch, Black & Decker, Makita, and Ryobi, have been conspiring to thwart new safety rules to require automatic blade stop technology, called Saw Stop, in their saws.  And this is no small issue.  67,000 U.S. workers and do-it-your-selfers suffer blade contact injuries every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

What does this mean to you:

Its one thing if they don’t want to adopt the safer technology, but its quite another to actively try to stop safer technology from being adopted as the standard.

Shop around before making a major tool purchase.  What you don’t know can hurt you.

Testing, schmesting.

You would think that medical devices  implanted inside your body would be some of the most highly-tested products in the world.  Not so, though, for hip implants made by the Stryker company, who began selling its hips without going through clinical trials first.

science experiment

Stryker claimed its hips were similar to DePuy’s metal on metal hips that were already for sale.  The fault in this logic, if you can call it that, is that DePuy’s hip implants are the ones having problems with fretting and corrosion of the metal, which causes pain and swelling.  This defect may even lead to metalosis – metal toxicity in the blood stream caused by metal ions and shavings from the implant itself.  This, despite the fact that the industry has known for some time that as much as 40% of metal-on-metal hip implants would fail.

Stryker has since recalled its Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants.  DePuy has since settled many of the claims against it for $2.5 billion.

What does this mean to you:

Someone with a recalled hip implant probably does not know the make or model they have.  If an implant patient continues to have, or suddenly develops, pain or swelling around their hip implant, they should check with their surgeon right away.

The itsy, bitsy baby climbed out of the high chair

I saw this story in the Columbus Dispatch today noting an increase in the number of injuries to babies caused by high chairs.  On average, 9,400 kids are hurt every year due to high chairs – a number that has been on the rise.

Baby in highchair

To be sure, some injuries were caused by children climbing out, while other are related to defects in the chair itself.

What does this mean to you:

Always register your baby products with the manufacturer so you are kept abreast of recalls.  Or, you can sign up to receive alerts from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

 

Tis the season

I saw this list recently – the top 10 most dangerous toys of all time.  Some of the toys on the list are downright jaw-droppingly dangerous and would make Irving Mainway proud.  Take, for example, the CSI fingerprint kit made with asbestos dust, made as recently as 2007(!)  Others, like the Hannah Montana card game laced with lead, are not as obvious.

child gun

What does this mean to you:

Always fill out and return the warranty cards that come with children’s products so you know when a recall happens and you can be up to date with the most current information.

 

That is NOT normal

I am not sure if this video is a critique of engineering standards, politicians, or just Australians.  Nonetheless, it seems to illustrate the often odd, and sometimes belligerent, lengths some will go to in order to deflect personal responsibility away from themselves.

The front fell off.

What does this mean to you:

As wacky as this video seems, corporate decision-makers and insurance adjusters often don’t like to admit reality when there is money at stake.  That’s why a lawyer’s ability to take depositions of these folks in litigation and put them under oath is a powerful tool.

On guard!

Human beings make mistakes.  If we didn’t, there would never be a need for any kind of safety device – from a seat belt in a car, to blade brake on a saw, to a guard on a piece of industrial machinery.  Engineers and product designers know this fundamental truth and are supposed to take it into account when designing things.  If they don’t, that’s on them.

That would ruin your day.

It hasn’t been released yet what happened this month to the woman in Barberton, Ohio who’s hair became snared in a machine that cuts off metal pipe.  Amazingly, she survived, but only after her scalp was ripped from her head.  Was the machine properly guarded?  Did it use electronic eyes (like on your garage door) that detect a person moving or hinge-actuated interlock switches  – either of which can automatically shut off the machine’s moving parts.  That way, if the machine fails, it fails to a safe state, i.e., it fails safe by design.  Or, were there guards on the machine that, at some point, were taken off?

What does this mean to you:

While manufacturers of dangerous products can be responsible for injuries caused by those products, generally your employer is not.  However, if the employer removes a safety guard, that employer may still be responsible for injuries caused on the job.

Thanks for nothing

Medical devices are supposed to solve our medical ailments, not cause them.  What am I missing here?

However, the FDA announced last summer that it was concerned about problems caused by surgical mesh – a medical device implanted, usually in women, to repair a hernia or pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Problems can involve bleeding, infection, pain, and urinary problems.  Then, earlier this year, the FDA ordered makers of surgical mesh to more closely study the risks involved with their products.  As of today, Johnson & Johnson, one of several manufacturers, has stated it will no longer sell surgical mesh products.  (Recall that this is the same Johnson & Johnson who also made the now-recalled DePuy ASR hip implants.)

What does this mean to you:

Though surgical mesh has not been recalled, it has caused enough issues to raise serious concerns.  Keep in mind that complications following a surgery are not always “normal,” and may actually be related to a medical device with known problems.

It’s all about the children

One of my favorite SNL sketches from back in the day was Dan Aykroyd as Irwin Mainway on the show “Consumer Probe.”  Mr. Mainway made toys for kids such as Johnny Switchblade, Bag O’ Glass (part of the very successful Bag O’ line), and Teddy Chainsaw Bear.  Classic!  The comedy lies in the fact that the danger in these kids products is patently obvious to everyone.

Is he playing with Mr. Skingrafter?

But plenty of products for children are recalled for hidden problems and latent defects each year.  Everything from strollers to cribs to toys with magnets in them.  Time Magazine just did a story on these issues.

What does this mean to you:

Though it is a pain, always fill out and return the warranty cards that come with products – especially children’s products – so you know when a recall happens.  A recall can be critical evidence in proving a claim.  Without a recall notice, you are relying on the goodness of Mr. Mainway’s heart to give you notice.