Some of the toughest PR problems occur when a company has not been transparent.  Consider this case.  St. Jude Medical did not reveal that battery failures affected some of its defibrillators and had caused at least one death.  The company hid the fact from its medical advisory board and from medical management as well.  St. Jude did eventually recall the device, but the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter as a result.  There is no good defense in a situation like this.  The company can’t say it didn’t know.  It did.  It can’t say no one was hurt.  One patient died and others were affected. It can’t even blame the battery maker who accepted that batteries were a problem.  Perhaps it is a good thing that St. Jude was bought out by Abbott Laboratories.  Abbott has inherited the problem but is handling it better than St. Jude.  About the only thing PR can say in situations like this is “I’m sorry, and it won’t happen again.”  Meanwhile, tort lawyers hover.

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