Guidant Corp. cautioned doctors for the second time in a week about a potential safety problem with some of its implantable defibrillators, advising them to discontinue use of five different devices until the company could complete its evaluation of the devices. The Food and Drug Administration might classify the situation as another recall. The problem rests with a magnetic switch in the devices, which may become stuck, inhibiting the device's ability to treat an abnormal heart rhythm, the company said. The problem also could accelerate battery depletion. Guidant said it confirmed four occurrences of the problem and suspects a fifth. Approximately 46,000 of the devices are in use. The devices were replaced in the four patients where the problem occurred. Apart from the device replacements, no patient injuries apart have occurred to date, Guidant said. The five models include two that Guidant had previously said had problems that could be fixed with a reprogramming in the doctor's office. -- by Cinda Becker
Guidant issues another warning about its defibrillators
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