Consumers Union Safe Patient project logo 218Your big screen television and new car comes with a warranty- why not the most important medical purchase you will make in your life?

Consumers Union, an arm of Consumer Reports, has come up with a novel and common sense approach. Manufacturers of medical devices should warranty their products. They claim they are safe and effective – so why not stand by their work?

Makes sense doesn’t it?

To fail to do so means that the public, doctors and hospitals carry the burden when a medical device goes wrong – and they do – especially the recent generation of metal-on-metal hips which have been shown to fail far short of their 15 year expected life span.  Not only does the patient lose viable bone, muscle and tissue during a revision surgery, but they are out thousands of dollars. And that’s if they can pay.  The public picks up the rest of the cost through higher medical bills and insurance.

Lisa McGiffert of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project reminds us that most medical devices were marketed through the 510(k) process which is a wink and a nod to safety.

“Patients have a right to know how long medical device manufacturers are willing to stand by their products,” she says.

The letter will go out to six manufacturers and suggest a 20-year warranty period. The recipients include Biomet, DePuy, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, Wright Technologies and Zimmer.

Two types of hip replacements

Two types of hip replacements

Not only would the warranty cover the very expensive cost of revision surgery, but it would encourage manufacturers to think about safety before a device is marketed, knowing the real cost would be borne by the company if there is a defect or failure.

With the aging Baby Boomer population expected to make use of 4 million hip and knee implants by the year 2030, the timing is critical.

If you agree, Consumers Union is making it easy for you to sign the letter which will go to the companies  here.