Merkley Joins Effort to Reinstate Rights to Patients

Washington, D.C. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has co-sponsored legislation to ensure the safety of medical equipment for patients and help protect consumers.  The Medical Device Safety Act will reinstate the right of patients to seek compensation for injuries sustained by faulty health care equipment.

“When it comes to our patients, safety should always come first. Patients should have the utmost confidence in the medical products they depend on to keep them healthy, said Merkley.  We need to have strong checks and balances to protect our citizens from faulty health care equipment and increased financial hardships.”

During February 2008, in the case of Riegel v. Medtronic, the Supreme Court granted immunity to negligent manufacturers of defective FDA-approved medical equipment that causes injury to patients. The ruling also extended protections to manufacturers who fail to warn consumers of problems they discover with their devices after they receive approval from the FDA. 

For example, The New York Times recently documented the case of Mark Turnidge, a 33-year-old man who received a defective heart defibrillator.  Turnidge was one of an estimated 235,000 patients who had the device implanted.  Earlier this year, Turnidge, the father of two young boys, died while having the defective medical device removed.  While the device was recalled back in 2007, Turnidge’s wife as well as countless other patients and their families have no legal recourse under the current law.

The Medical Device Safety Act, sponsored by Ted Kennedy, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, increases oversight and restores rights to victims of negligence so they are able to seek compensation for their injuries, health care expenses and lost wages.

“I’m proud to join Senators Kennedy and Leahy in supporting legislation to restore rights to patients who have been injured by defective medical equipment,said Merkley.  This bill will protect patients by strengthening accountability and encouraging manufacturers to increase oversight on the production of health care equipment.”