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Dispatches investigates the Medtronic Sprint Fidelis 6949 defibrillator lead

Channel 4 Documentary Investigates Medical Devices, Including the Medtronic Sprint Fidelis 6949 Defibrillator Lead.


16 May 2011

Findings of a joint investigation by the BMJ and Channel 4’s Dispatches are to be aired at 8pm on Monday 16th May 2011 in “Dispatches – Under the Knife”. In the programme serious questions are raised by patients and doctors alike regarding the extent of testing conducted on these components before they are released into the market.

Leigh Day's client, Christopher Pitt, features in the programme. He suffered inappropriate shocks from his Medtronic Sprint Fidelis 6949 defibrillator lead.

Leigh Day is currently investigating the potential claims of a further 24 people who have had similar experiences.

In October 2007, Medtronic suspended distribution of certain Sprint Fidelis defibrillation leads worldwide “because of the potential for lead fractures”. By this point, roughly 268,000 Sprint Fidelis leads had been implanted.

The fracture of a defibrillator lead can cause inappropriate shocks to the heart, which can be painful and frightening and, in some cases, life-threatening.

One of the cases that Leigh Day is investigating is that of Susan Edmond, who suffered inappropriate shocks during the night in 2010. Miss Edmond says: “I woke up terrified, and was subsequently admitted to hospital, where I had to undergo surgery to replace the Medtronic lead. Following this experience, I have had difficulty sleeping and live in fear that it could happen again. This has completely brought my life to a standstill.”

Mr William Smith has suffered similar problems. In October 2010 he received 32 inappropriate shocks without warning: “I was watching television at the time. The shocks received caused me terrible pain and a lot of stress. I have suffered a complete loss of self confidence, and for the first couple of weeks after it happened I was frightened to be on my own and suffered panic attacks. I still relive the incident.

Patients concerned about their defibrillator leads should contact their treating doctors. If you or a relative have been affected and would like to discuss the matter, please contact us on 020 7650 1219.

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