The Implant Files examines the crossroads at which innovation and unregulated greed intersect, and the damage that can occur as a result.
Few fields have harbored more forward-thinking innovation than the medical industry. Of particular consequence has been the introduction of state-of-the-art medical devices. From cardiac stents to hip replacement parts, these devices have been responsible for prolonging and enhancing a quality of life for millions of patients.
But there's a darker side to these success stories. In the rush to deliver these new innovations to market, they are often poorly tested and woefully unregulated. As a result, device defects can occur, inflicting great physical discomfort and psychological distress to patients who have essentially been used as guinea pigs.
The most involving moments of the film come from a series of interviews with wronged patients. One man undergoes an intensive operation to remove fragments of a deteriorated spinal disc he received. An older mother suffers from seizures after using a defective insulin pump. A machinist files a lawsuit against the manufacturer after the metal in his artificial hip replacement falters and poisons him.
We hear additional stories of ruptured breast implants, potentially deadly uterine mesh mishaps, and malfunctioning heart devices. Patients are often forced to live in extreme discomfort and incapacitation. In spite of their pleas and legal overtures, medical device companies are rarely penalized for their negligence.
The film breaks down the process by which these devices are produced and given fast approval to enter the marketplace. The current system overlooks critical steps in accountability and testing. The deep pocketbooks of medical device companies allow them to mask their misdeeds through high-priced attorneys and flashy advertising. Disgruntled patients often have little recourse when their lives are placed at risk. Paper trails documenting the life of a device from conception to distribution are sketchy at best, but incidents of defects and deterioration are occurring with increasing regularity.
Produced as an installment of the invaluable DW Documentary series, The Implant Files urges for more oversight in the medical device industry, and a return to healthcare’s most basic oath of "first do no harm".