Advancements in the medical field have brought about many devices that help in diagnosis, treatment and improved quality of life for patients. From heart pacemakers to insulin pumps, these devices play a pivotal role in healthcare.
However, like any other piece of technology, medical devices are not immune to failures. When they malfunction, it can lead to health complications or even life-threatening situations. Here are the top causes of their failures.
One of the leading causes of medical device failures stems from manufacturing defects. Even with strong quality control measures, defects can arise from the use of substandard materials, human errors during the production process or equipment malfunctions in the manufacturing facility.
Software and programming errors
Modern medical devices often rely on software to operate. Any glitch or error in this software can cause the device to malfunction. Incorrect programming, failure to update the software or vulnerabilities to malware can all lead to software-induced device failures. The FDA is hoping for a $5.5 million budget for cybersecurity to test new medical devices for vulnerabilities.
Improper use or handling by medical personnel
Even the most advanced medical device can fail if not used correctly. Healthcare workers might not receive enough training or might misuse a device unintentionally, leading to its malfunction.
Wear and tear
Like all equipment, medical devices are subject to wear and tear, especially those implanted in the body or used frequently. Over time, components can degrade, batteries can run out and devices can become less accurate in their readings or functions. Regular maintenance and timely replacements are essential to prevent failures due to wear and tear.
Inadequate testing and rushed approvals
Sometimes, the eagerness to introduce a revolutionary device to the market can result in inadequate testing. Without thorough testing, certain device vulnerabilities or potential failure points may go undetected.
Medical devices can also fail due to factors like extreme temperatures, moisture or exposure to electromagnetic fields. Individuals should store and use these devices in environments recommended by manufacturers.
While medical devices have transformed healthcare and saved countless lives, they come with some risks. By understanding the top causes of their failures, you can take proactive measures to ensure your safety or the safety of your loved ones.