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The Wall Street Journal has let patients affected by the recall of St. Jude Medical’s Riata-model defibrillator in on a little secret: The medical device manufacturer is quietly reimbursing patients for costs associated with replacing the defective device, but are not covered under the company’s warranty or by insurance companies or Medicare.

St. Jude recalled the Riata defibrillator last year because the wires that connect the device to the heart were breaking through their insulation in one fifth of patients. The procedure to replace the device is expensive; St. Jude’s warranty, insurance companies and Medicare cover some of the costs, but patients are left with the bill for such expenses as copayments and travel expenses. Moreover, St. Jude will only pay for a replacement device if it’s the company’s Durata-model defibrillator; many patients and doctors are leery of the Duratas, as there’s evidence to suggest they might have the same problem the Riatas did.

Apparently, patients who have contacted St. Jude about uncovered costs have been reimbursed by the company through an informal, case-by-case process which the medical-device manufacturer does not publicize and was loath to discuss with the WSJ. A St. Jude spokeswoman did tell the paper the company “generally reimburses reasonable medical costs.”

If you or a loved one have been harmed by a Riata or Durata defibrillator or another faulty medical device, contact Hodes Milman Liebeck for a free case evaluation. We’re aggressive personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys, serving all of California and Arizona. We have the experience to take on the medical industry and have achieved multi-million dollar verdicts for our clients.