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The Bleeding Edge Review: Terrifying but eye-opening

Updated: May 25, 2021

The Bleeding Edge is a documentary about the medical device industry in America. It exposes the institutions and companies involved in creating sophisticated devices that get implanted in patients. The documentary is a disturbing look at how corporations cut corners and take advantage of a broken system to allow untested devices to circulate. These instruments can be borderline dangerous and sometimes life-threatening. Yet, they take an unbelievable amount of time to get banned. Ultimately, 'The Bleeding Edge' gives a reflection on how inhumane and unfeeling corporate America has become, to the point where our government no longer seems to care about the health and safety of its citizens.



The documentary starts with describing the wonders medical devices have worked. From cornea transplants to pacemakers, the medical device industry has saved and transformed lives. The film accepts that these instruments are indeed incredible. Instead of trying to prove the entire system as corrupt or broken, the film focuses on a handful of medical devices that are so unreliable that viewers are left spellbound on how they ever got approval.


One of the devices this film examines is the cobalt hip replacements. The film follows an orthopaedic surgeon who got this device implanted and had all kinds of unnatural complications. Symptoms ranged from physical twitching to mental breakdowns. After observing a pattern amongst multiple patients, it was found that the source of the problem was cobalt leaking from the implant. The irony is that the tried and tested 'old' method was much safer. But to get maximum profits, hip-replacement developers kept pushing for the newer and more 'advanced' version which had never been completely tested.



Another example of a device gone wrong is the Essure implant. This device was intended to be a birth-control method for women developed by Bayer. It worked by inserting small metal coils into the fallopian tubes. These coils would theoretically scar and block the tubes. They were marketed as the easiest way to birth control as they were fast, simple and not intrusive. However, there were instances of childbirth even after Essure was used. New-borns suffered from serious health issues while 800 failed deaths have been reported with Essure. Additionally, this device has caused an unimaginable number of problems for women, ranging from permanent crippling to instigation of autoimmune diseases. Many women had multiple coils in them, having to do many surgeries to remove the coils that often broke down into fragments.


Other devices that make an appearance are the da Vinci robot (which was used for surgery but lead to, in one case, a woman’s colon literally dropping out of her), a vaginal mesh (that fused with other organs of the body and could never be fully removed), IVC filters (which can cause the floating of the heart), and many others.



The film goes on to explain how these devices get approved by the FDA by loopholes. It is unsettling to see how the clearance is obtained in ways that are illegal and make no sense. For example, new devices that are substantially equivalent to older approved devices can be approved with minimal to no testing through a shortcut. This leads to horrifying consequences for patients. Doctors themselves are unaware of the dangers of such devices as they are FDA approved, or in some cases, paid to look the other way. The saddest and most frightening part is that reputed institutions that are a day-to-day name are involved including governmental regulatory organizations, which are supposed to look out for the health of consumers. The fact that the one organization responsible for upholding the safety of every kind of food, drug, or device has succumbed to the lobbying of the healthcare industry and is no longer powerful enough to stand and safeguard consumers is terrifying.



We get an intimate look at the victims whose lives have been shattered along with the crumbling of entire families who had trustingly put faith in these medical devices. It examines the shift in safety standards for the sake of profit and provides solutions for people to look out for themselves (as the system, sadly, can’t be trusted). The film is a must-watch even though some moments can be hard to see through. It throws light on a problem that is rarely discussed. It is analytical in tone, honest in approach and faithful to its message. The Bleeding Edge is a real-life horror film and is an eye-opening one that needs to be seen.


If you havent seen the trailer for The Bleeding Edge, check it out below-


-Annapoorna Narayan, Writer for TheLucidLlama

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