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Texas Personal Injury News

Friday, August 17, 2018

Digital Health Products Could Give Rise to Product Liability Cases

Could the maker of a digital health product be liable for injuries arising from its use?

The rise of digital health products has generally been associated with health improvements. Apple Watches, Fitbits, and smartphone apps that count our steps, monitor our heart rate, and detail our sleep are usually thought to benefit consumers. Similarly, less mainstream digital health products, like wearable patches for diabetics, can actually save lives. Who is liable, however, when one of these devices malfunctions and causes or contributes to the wearer’s injuries? Our Texas defective drugs and medical devices lawyer explore the potential future of product liability cases surrounding digital health products below.

Digital Health Product Safety

There are numerous types of digital health products on the market today, and more are soon to emerge as technologies continue to evolve. Some of the most common digital health products include Fitbits, Apple Watches, and a variety of apps available on your smartphone. All of these products offer some form of the following information: steps walked and heart rate. Other programs may offer additional features like work out stats and sleep wake ups.

Most of the time, if one of these devices malfunctions, it will not create a life threatening situation. In fact, at least one person has attributed his Apple Watch with saving his life. He went to sleep with the watch on and it detected an elevated heart rate. He decided to go to the emergency room, where it was found he was having a heart attack.

Imagine, however, if the Apple Watch had malfunctioned and displayed a normal heart rate. Instead of going to the ER, the wearer may have kept sleeping and had a heart attack. Could Apple be liable if their product falsely determines that the user’s heart rate is normal? While this case has yet to present itself, one could envision such a scenario occurring in the future.

Alternatively, product liability cases may more readily arise out of devices directly developed by drug and medical companies. Already, a patch exists to monitor patient’s insulin levels. The software within it then recommends insulin dose amounts. An error in this program could kill a patient, and questions would then swirl as to the product maker’s liability for the defective product.

With increasing reliance on technology impacting nearly every aspect of our lives, legal issues are bound to arise. Digital health products are among many products that could raise complex liability issues in coming years. Consult with a defective drug and medical device attorney in your region for more assistance with a dangerous medical product.


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Chandler, Mathis & Zivley, PC has offices located in Houston and Lufkin Texas and serves clients throughout East Texas as well as many other states.
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