How Do Cochlear Implants Work?
Cochlear implants are designed to treat significant hearing loss or other communication disorders by mimicking the function of a healthy inner ear (cochlea) with a speech processor. The device replaces the function of damaged sensory hair cells inside the ear to help provide clearer sound than what a normal hearing aid can provide.
A cochlear implant system has 2 parts:
- The external sound processor
- The implant that is surgically placed into the patient's skull and attached to an electrode array in the ear.
Together, these parts bypass the part of the ear that isn’t working, sending sound straight to the auditory nerve.
Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sound generally and/or by specific frequencies, a cochlear implant translates acoustic sound into electrical signals. It sends the signals directly to the patient's hearing nerve and then on to the brain.
Cochlear implant surgery is controversial, especially in the deaf community and in deaf culture. Many people who were born deaf believe that cochlear implants are not a “miracle cure” for a deaf person.
Health Risks of Defective Cochlear Implants
While surgically implanted devices may be beneficial to some cochlear implant patients, others have experienced significant unnecessary potential cochlear implant risks and life-threatening complications including:
- Severe hearing loss
- Balance issues
- Changes in taste
- Electronic device malfunction
- Dry mouth
- 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 caused by excessive moisture
- 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
- Implant surgery-related perilymph fluid leakage
- Nerve damage-related taste disturbances following cochlear implant surgery
- Tinnitus (ringing or buzzing sound in the ears)
- Damage to facial nerves
- Total loss of natural hearing caused by damaged cochlea cells
- Vertigo or dizziness
Parents with young children who have undergone cochlear implant 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
Kentucky Girl Awarded $7.25 Million in Cochlear Implant Lawsuit
In 2013, a jury awarded an 11-year-old Kentucky girl $7.25 million after her cochlear implant malfunctioned and shocked her so severely she was thrown to the ground vomiting and convulsing. Her family sued the manufacturer of the device, Advanced Bionics, after the girl was shocked 2 more times and the hearing aids had to be removed and replaced with a competitor’s model.
Advanced Bionics was ordered to pay $1.1 million to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2008 to settle allegations the company failed to notify the federal agency it was using a different supplier for one of its implant’s components, according to a report by USA Today. The Food and Drug Administration said this failure exposed deaf people to “unnecessary health risks.”
More cochlear implant lawsuits have been filed in federal court since the 2013 verdict. These lawsuits accuse Advanced Bionics of designing a defective product and failing to warn about its risks.
HiRes 90K Cochlear Implant Recall
Advanced Bionics (AB) announced that it will voluntarily recall its HiRes 90K cochlear implant device and is retrieving all unimplanted medical devices in distribution.
The recall was initiated in response to two confirmed instances where the product experienced a malfunction requiring explantation. These recipients experienced severe pain, moderate hearing loss, overly loud sounds, and/or shocking sensations at 8-10 days after initial activation of their device.
Proving a Defective Medical Implant Lawsuit in Court
In most cases, there are 3 ways to establish liability against a manufacturer of a harmful consumer item:
(1) Defect in the Design: Takes place when the manufacturers failed to utilized other less dangerous designs for the product existed at the time of production.
(2) Defect in the Manufacturing Process: A manufacturing defect takes place when the final manufactured and distributed item is markedly different than its original design resulting in a medical device that is significantly more dangerous.
(3) Failure to Warn – Defective Labeling: In many cases manufacturers fail to properly warn medical professionals and end user of all known and knowable dangers associated with the use of their products.
Bacterial Meningitis Resulting in Death – Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit: Bacterial meningitis is a dangerous infection linked to the implantation of failed devices without early intervention. In some instances, bacterial meningitis can result in death. In most jurisdictions, certain relatives of the deceased have a right to file a wrongful death claim against liable parties after the accident happened.
What Compensation Could I Be Awarded?
Victims often ask “Can I sue Cochlear for complications with the implant” or “Can I file a lawsuit against Cochlear” in an effort to seek a legal remedy for their damages. Individuals who have suffered significant harm due to the implantation of defective medical implants have the right to seek compensation for all harms suffered.
A Cochlear ear damage attorney should be consulted for the best results. According to personal injury laws, victims may be entitled to recovery for:
- Recovery for all medical and health-related costs.
- Cost of any rehabilitation expenses.
- Any loss of income or salaries including future loss of income.
- Non-economic damage compensation – this includes recovery from emotional trauma pain and suffering and mental anguish.
- Punitive damages – often awarded where the at-fault manufacturer acted with intent to cause harm or knew to a substantial degree of heightened levels of risk associated with the use of the item.
Injured by a Defective Cochlear Implant? Our Lawyers are Handling Defective Cochlear Implant Claims in All 50 States.
The Medical Device Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in defective medical device injury lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Free Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by a cochlear device, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit and we can help.