Cochlear Ear Implant Lawsuit
Are you or your child the victim of medical malpractice where the doctor's negligence led to a cochlear implant mistake? Did the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recall your cochlear implant due to malfunction problems?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys can serve as your legal advocates for families filing defective cochlear implant claims to ensure they receive the financial compensation they deserve. Contact our surgical injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
Children born with partial or total hearing loss cause the family intense grief and distress knowing that their child is profoundly deaf or hard of hearing. The parents want to fix what's wrong but usually only have limited opportunities, including a cochlear implant.
Beginning in 1972, many individuals with hearing impairments underwent a life-changing cochlear device procedure. Data from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) revealed tens of thousands of adults and children chose to undergo cochlear implant surgery. Many patients were born deaf.
Unfortunately, like all surgeries, cochlear implants are not without risks. For decades, cochlear implant patients have faced an extensive history of severe complications, implant recalls, and compensation lawsuits when their cochlear implants malfunctioned.
Medical device manufacturers design cochlear implants for adults and children suffering severe hearing loss where a traditional hearing aid is ineffective. Unlike hearing aids, these devices do more than merely amplify sound like a hearing aid but instead deliver sound directly to the patient's auditory nerve in the inner ear (cochlea).
Bypassing the ears and sending auditory from the cochlea directly to the brain through the small electronic device ensures that the previously deaf person has complete or near-complete hearing. Early intervention is crucial to the patient's ability to hear in the future.
Over time, the opportunity for hearing improvement decreases significantly as the individual's hearing loss worsens. Children tend to have substantially more benefits sooner for improved hearing after undergoing surgery, followed by rehabilitation and training to achieve optimal hearing.
Potential Cochlear Implant Surgery Candidates
Typically, an audiologist or health care provider will recommend a cochlear implanted receiver to patients experiencing hearing loss who usually rely heavily on lip-reading. Potential candidates for the implant surgery include:
- Implant recipients experiencing severe hearing loss where hearing aids are ineffective
- People whose hearing has poor clarity in both ears
- Adults and children missing at least half or more of all spoken words without lip-reading while wearing hearing aids or not
- Individuals who wear hearing aids that rely heavily on lip-reading
In many cases, people with moderate hearing loss will use a partially inserted cochlear implant to preserve their hearing while simultaneously wearing a hearing aid in the same ear. However, significant hearing loss might require a fully inserted implant to achieve maximum hearing through an electronic medical device.
The results of a cochlear implant vary significantly between individuals. However, many patients benefit enormously from the heightened awareness of sounds within the first days after surgery. Typically, the surgeon turns the implant on approximately 4 to 6 weeks after the procedure.
The individual tends to understand speech gradually, maximizing their hearing and understanding in the first six months. Usually, the patient requires rehabilitation and therapy after their surgery to maximize their benefits.
Patients should consider an implant early on because the ability to improve their hearing loss decreases significantly over time. However, with successful surgery, rehabilitation and therapy, patients could improve their hearing by:
- Understanding speech without the need to lip read
- Receiving varying sounds like phones ringing, doors closing, and footsteps
- Understanding voices over electronic devices, including smartphones
- Watching TV without needing closed captioning
- Hearing music
Preparing for Cochlear Implant Surgery
A cochlear medical device does not restore the patient's hearing to normal. In addition, in a small number of cases, the surgery does not help the individual's hearing at all.
While recommending a cochlear medical device, the doctor will likely discuss specific facts about what the procedure entails and what to expect in the days, weeks, and months following the surgery. The specific facts include:
- Individuals who have undergone the implant surgery will need training and therapy that teaches how to care for the device
- The therapy will teach the individual how to interpret electrical signals to understand aural and hearing sounds
- Rehabilitation will teach listening skills for better communication
- The device requires recharging or new batteries each day
- The external part of the implant must be removed when swimming or bathing
- Surgeons must perform a particular surgery for patients undergoing an MRI
- Playing sports or involvement in an accident could damage the implant
In some cases, the patient loses their natural hearing in the implanted ear. When this occurs, the individual should use a hearing aid instead to ensure their natural hearing ability remains.
The potential candidate will need to undergo a physical examination and hearing tests and meet with a counselor psychologist. Also, potential candidates are typically assessed by a speech-language pathologist, audiologist, and otologist (doctors that provide medical treatment for hearing-related disorders).
Cochlear Implant Risks and Complications
While surgically implanted devices have proved to be beneficial for tens of thousands of patients, others have experienced significant unnecessary potential risks and life-threatening complications that include:
- Balance issues
- Changes in taste
- Device malfunction
- Dry mouth
- Facial nerve injury
- Facial paralysis
- Fluid leakage around the inner ear or brain
- General anesthesia risks
- Inability to undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- Inability to undergo ionic radiation therapy and electroconvulsive therapy
- Implant-area infection
- Infection of the membrane covering the brain
- Injury to the facial nerve, which can cause movement problems in the face
- Insufficient hearing results
- Localized inflammation
- Loss of residual hearing implant failure
- Numbness around the ear
- Severe infection requiring implant removal
- Skin wound infections
- Cerebrospinal fluid leakage
- Surgical site blood and fluid collection
- Surgery-related perilymph fluid leakage
- Nerve damage-related taste disturbances following surgery
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing sound in the ears)
- Total loss of natural hearing caused by damaged cochlea cells
- Vertigo or dizziness
Some data reveals that cochlear implant patients, especially children, have unnecessary health risks for life-threatening bacterial meningitis, potentially fatal swelling of the spinal cord or brain. In addition, there may be additional risks, depending on the patient's medical condition.
Parents with young children who have undergone surgery should look for the signs of a defective device, including:
- Loss of hearing
- Pain or discomfort
- Unwillingness to use headphones
- Sudden loud noises and popping sounds
- Intermittent functioning
Many young children have experienced an electrical shock from their defective cochlear implant.
The Surgical Cochlear Implant Procedure
Typically, the physician will perform cochlear implant surgery in a clinic or hospital. Usually, the surgery takes 2 to 4 hours to complete. The individual is usually given general anesthesia to ensure they are asleep during the surgery.
The surgery usually involves:
- The surgeon makes an incision (cut) behind the deaf person's ear before opening the mastoid bone
- The physician locates the facial nerves in the mastoid bone, creating an opening between the nerves gaining access, and opening the cochlea
- the surgeon inserts implant electrodes into the cochlea
- The doctor inserts the receiver (electronic device) behind the ear under the skin, securing it to the patient's skull
- The physician closes the incision
- The nursing staff removes the individual from the operating room to the recovery area for close monitoring
- Usually, the individual is discharged from the facility following two hours of close monitoring and observation
Typically, it takes approximately four to six weeks after the surgery to heal completely. At that time, the physician will add the external implant parts, including the speech processor and microphone.
Defective Cochlear Implants
Many patients who have undergone an implant surgery have experienced a device malfunction, producing a wide array of complications, including:
- Intermittent implant functionality
- Vestibular (inner ear) balance issues
- Painful sensations in the ears
- Electrical shock
In 2010, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recalled the Advanced Bionics Corporation HiRes cochlear implant device after recipients experienced severe pain, shocking sensations, and overly loud sounds. Problems with the Advance Bionics device occurred within 8 to 10 days after the device was initially activated.
In 2019, the FDA recalled the MED EL Cochlear System designed for profoundly and severely deaf people where a hearing aid was ineffective. The medical device was recalled because the helium leak test results were not within the cochlear implant standard specification.
The recall notes show that "an accumulation of internal moisture may cause complete failure of the device. Should any discomfort or pain sensation be experienced, please stop immediately using the device…."
Cochlear Implant FAQs
Our law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions concerning cochlear implant lawsuits when dealing directly with the insurance company. A medical malpractice lawyer has answered some of those questions below.
For additional information, contact our law office today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or use the contact form.
What Is the Success Rate of a Cochlear Implant?
Statistically, patients who have undergone a cochlear device surgical procedure have a high success rate. In addition, many adults benefit significantly within the first few weeks after the surgery.
The typical individual has maximally improved sound quality in the first three months following tuning sessions. Unfortunately, cochlear implant surgery has associated risks where the procedure could fail and not restore the patient's hearing.
Why Are Cochlear Implants Bad?
Cochlear implantable medical devices have helped tens of thousands of individuals improve the quality of their hearing. But, unfortunately, inserting a cochlear implant destroys the individual's residual hearing in the ear receiving the implant.
Like all surgeries, cochlear implant surgery has inherent surgical risks. Although, complications are rare and usually include infections, bleeding, tinnitus (ringing in the ear), facial nerve weakness, dizziness, and substandard hearing. In some cases, the cochlear implant malfunctioned.
How Much Does It Cost to Get a Cochlear Implant?
Usually, insurance covers nearly all patients that undergo cochlear implant procedures that typically range between $30,000 and $50,000 on average. In addition, Medicare, Medicaid, and Veterans Affairs cover the surgery, while some insurance providers only cover a portion.
There will be additional costs in time to replace the implant's components, including magnets and microphones. Repairs might also be required at some future point. However, insurance plans usually cover these costs.
Does an Individual Normally Hear With a Cochlear Implant?
Undergoing a cochlear implant surgical procedure is a lifelong commitment. The fully implantable auditory medical device might not improve the patient's hearing.
Cochlear implants do not restore normal hearing but help Individuals with sounds. The device can be highly effective when hearing alarms, doorbells, telephones, and human speech.
Personal Injury Attorneys Representing Cochlear Implant Lawsuits
Were you or a loved one harmed by a defective cochlear implant? Did the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recall your device that has caused your pain, discomfort, or physical harm?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our injury attorneys can hold those responsible for causing your injuries financially and legally accountable. Let our team file a cochlear implant lawsuit and sue the manufacturer or physician on your behalf.
Our team has access to a network of medical professionals and social workers who can help families cope with their loved one's birth injuries and an award-winning team of Chicago birth injury attorneys with a proven track record of success.
Call our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to schedule a free consultation for immediate legal advice. We provide every client a "No Win/No-Fee" Guarantee, meaning if we cannot obtain compensation on your behalf, you owe our legal team nothing.
Additionally, all confidential or sensitive information you share with our law office will create an attorney-client relationship to ensure your privacy.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine – Cochlear Implant Surgery
- FDA – Class II Device Recall Cochlear Implant
- Food and Drug's Administration – Cochlear Implant Benefit/Risks
- 3M earplug lawsuits
Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and care the injured victim requires.