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Parents of Deceased Boston Teen Want to Know if Product Defect Caused Ventilator to Shut Down

The family of Fernando Vargas, an East Boston teenager who died after his ventilator turned off during a power shortage last week, wants to know if his death occurred because the medical device was defective.

A preliminary police probe found that the ventilator’s backup battery failed during the two-hour power failure that occurred last week. The ventilator will be tested to find out what caused the malfunction. New England Home Therapies, the MassHealth Contractor that supplied Vargas with the ventilator, says it will send the device back to manufacturer Pulmonetic Systems for testing.

While Vargas’s ventilator has the same model number as one of four models included in the 2004 recall of about 10,000 Pulmonetic Systems ventilators, it is not clear whether the ventilator’s serial number is also a match. The recall occurred following approximately 30 reports of the backup battery malfunctioning during a power outage.

Pulmonetic also had voluntarily recalled 1,129 cable adapters that were supposed to fix the defect that led to the ventilator recall after it received reports that the new device was not letting the ventilator repower after the internal battery had been drained.

Medical devices that have been the source of products liability lawsuits include:

• Guidant Pacemakers • Dialysis Machines • Hernia Patches • Hip Prosthetics • Cosmetic Implants • Stents • Orthopedic Implants
Late teen’s stopped ventilator sent for tests, July Boston.com, July 21, 2008

Related Web Resources:

Pulmonetic Systems

Frequency, Causes, and Outcome of Home Ventilator Failure, ChestJournal.com
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