The 3-D printing involves building solid, three-dimensional objects based off of digital models. The process comprises of successive layers of material assembled on top of one another to develop the requested device. But as 3D-printed devices are being used in the medical industry, it will present substantial liability issues for those injured by these devices.
Liability of Doctors & Hospitals Printing 3D Medical Devices
As of today, applying product liability principals to hospitals and doctors printing their own custom 3D medical devices will prove difficult to do. According to strict liability law, any person who suffers an injury caused by a defective product can hold the manufacturers and sellers responsible as long as they engaged in the business of selling the product. But who is the manufacturer of a product made from a 3D printer, and can it be a physician or hospital?
Currently, doctors and hospitals cannot be held strictly liable as suppliers of medical products and devices. They should be considered as “consumers” or “users” of a product.
The following are two ways to pursue a lawsuit against hospitals or doctors who print defective 3D medical products:
- Medical malpractice claims – If a hospital or doctor recommends or supervises the use of a defective 3D product, patients who suffer injuries because of a healthcare provider’s advice may file a medical malpractice suit. Other situations eligible for medical malpractice include improper use of the 3D printing device or failure to inform risks associated with the device.
- Negligence – Injuries caused by defective devices printed by hospitals and physicians are also subject to simple negligent cause of action. Patients need to present evidence to prove breach of duty, causation, and the damages which followed. Negligence is much more difficult to prove compared to strict liability.