Cold therapy devices have helped millions of Americans, including many West Virginia residents, to recover from various types of soft tissue issue injuries and orthopedic surgeries. It's true too that many of those medical devices, including the Polar Care 500 product manufactured by Breg International, can apply temperatures cold enough to severely damage or even kill healthy living skin tissue.
That's what happened to one former high school track star in a western state. According to reports, the woman began using the Polar Care 500 device after her doctor prescribed it following a successful knee surgery. Unfortunately, using the dangerous medical device caused her skin to begin to die even as it was helping her recover from the surgery. The woman has had to have numerous reconstructive surgeries as a result and is expected to require at least two more.
She then sued Breg International and the doctor who prescribed the product. After several months of legal wrangling and a full trial, the jury that heard the evidence in this medical malpractice case ultimately decided the Polar Care 500 was negligently designed by Breg and that the doctor's own negligence was also a "substantial factor" in causing the plaintiff's harm.
Based on that finding, the jury awarded the woman nearly $5 million in compensatory damages and $7.5 million in punitive damages, for a total verdict of more than $12 million.
When asked for comment, the doctor's attorney said this was essentially a products liability case in which his client "used the Breg company Polar Care 500 device as recommended and exactly like thousands of other doctors nationwide," including the plaintiff's expert's own partner.
Representatives of Breg International would not comment on the specifics of the case but did issue a statement about the safety of cold therapy devices in general and the importance of using devices "in accordance with instructions from the physician and manufacturer's label to ensure safe and effective results."
FDA officials also declined to comment on the result in this defective medical lawsuit.
Source: NBC San Diego, "Jury Awards $7.5M in Damages in Polar Care 500 Lawsuit," Christine Haas and R. Stickney, July 31, 2012