Sometimes a physician or hospital has liability when using defective products or equipment, but this is not too common.
As background, the courts have usually imposed strict liability principles against those engaged in the production and commerce of defective products and equipment. They reason that it is unfair and unethical to expect an unsuspecting public to have the knowledge or skill necessary to determine product safety. It has been determined repeatedly that the public should be able to trust those engaged in the manufactur and sale of products. Because the public cannot be expected to protect themselves in such situations, those engaged in the production and commerce of such products and who benefit from their sale, must bear the cost of injuries. The resulting litigation becomes a so-called product liability action.
Is the health care provider who used the defective product or equipment at risk for a medical negligence action?
Historically, the courts have been reluctant to hold health care providers responsible for defective products and equipment. This has been true even when the health care provider directly provided the product or used the product on the patient, thus causing an injury. The court has determined that the health care provider is not in the business of selling such products, but rather providing the medical care, services, or treatment that necessitated using the product. The conclusion has been that the product or equipment was only incidental to the professional duties of the health care provider. Thus, the courts have treated health care providers like consumers in that they cannot be expected to anticipate, understand, or detect product or equipment defects.
The courts have put limits on claims against health care providers in matters not directly involved with the negligent delivery of health care. Because the courts have been reluctant to view heath care providers as involved in the commerce of defective products or equipment, most courts have not allowed product liability actions against health care providers.
As always, there are exceptions. There have been numerous lawsuits involving health care providers knowingly using products or equipment that have defects known to them, but have yet to be pulled from the market by regulatory agencies. In these situations, informed consent had not been given to the injured patients.