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Joe Carlson

Reporter | Medical technology
Phone: 612-673-4779
Location: Minneapolis
Other languages: None

Joe Carlson writes about medical technology in Minnesota for the Star Tribune.


Carlson has covered health care beats full time since 2008, including medical technology, not-for-profit providers and health care legal affairs. His stories tend to blend health care business affairs and patient-focused information.
Recent content from Joe Carlson
Workers at the Minnetronix Medical manufacturing facility in St. Paul. Minnetronix, a St. Paul-based company that manufactures medical devices under c

Companies study Medtronic plans in race to bolster ventilator production

Engineers are studying a variety of designs in the effort to bolster production of the potentially lifesaving devices.
President Donald Trump opens a box containing a 5-minute test for COVID-19 from Abbott Laboratories as Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the U.S. Food and

Abbott's 5-minute test among products with Minnesota ties on front lines of virus fight

Developments include a five-minute coronavirus test and a device that removes fluids from patients.
Kyle Eaton, the lead pastor at Rock Hill Community Church in Duluth, preached to a nearly empty room while being live streamed. The only people in the

4 more deaths in Minnesota, 3 are from group-care facilities

The 503 confirmed cases included at least 21 residents of long-term care facilities and another 11 health care workers who worked in those centers.
Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove listened as Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz spoke at a news conference last week to

10,000 Minn. health care workers filed jobless claims in the past 10 days

Laid-off workers include those who do work related to minimally invasive and elective procedures and health care support workers.
Vials of COVID-19 samples were tested on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.

Delayed test results leave some Minnesotans trapped

The testing backlog is cleared, but some patients are still waiting for results.
Kim Lutes, left, a registered nurse and others carried 1200 N-95 masks donated by Rich Forstner, president at Mavo Systems. The Minnesota Nurses Assoc

Backlog of COVID-19 tests is eliminated with Mayo's help

Gov. Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard to transport personal protective equipment needed by health care workers. The state's number of COVID-19 cases rose by 32 on Sunday to 169 with two new counties added.
Medronic's Minnesota headquarters in Fridley.

Medtronic will double ventilator production for virus demand

The device maker will redeploy staff and increase production to help meet demand.
FILE - In this Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 file photo, a surgeon directs a special camera to be able to view his patient's cancer tumor on monitors while p

Decision on delaying elective surgery will be made at local level

At least four major health systems in Minnesota already have announced decisions to postpone elective care in various ways.
The Gonda Building, which is part of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Mayo Clinic among Minnesota health care providers postponing elective surgeries because of coronavirus

They're the state's largest providers of hospital care.
Brian Howell, a lab technologist, works on the extracting of RNA from a sample in the Mayo Clinic virology lab last week in Rochester.

FDA waives regulations to get more COVID-19 tests on U.S. market

Test makers will need to ensure that tests work and include disclaimers that the tests aren't definitive.
Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Health care companies pushing to find test to quickly detect COVID-19

Health care companies around the world are racing to produce new point-of-care diagnostic systems that can quickly detect the presence of the new coronavirus.
The Seward Co-op on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis closed Sunday, March 15, after an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The store is

State's first 'community spread' of virus is confirmed in Twin Cities

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has jumped to 35. St. Paul declared a state of emergency, closing all libraries and Park and Rec facilities.
A nurse demonstrates taking a sample for a coronavirus test at the infection station of the university hospital in Essen, Germany, Thursday, March 12,

University of Minnesota to test three drugs for COVID-19 patients

A drug developed to treat Ebola is among those being tested by the U Medical School.
As of today, the Food and Drug Administration cannot issue a full list of affected devices, because no such list exists — it’s up to each manufact

Medical device makers race to understand scope of SweynTooth vulnerabilities

Medtronic, other device makers learn of vulnerabilities in Bluetooth communications.
A protest urging more regulation of EtOs in front of the the Oak Brook headquarters of Sterigenics in September.

Ellison joins push for crackdown on chemical used to sterilize medical devices

Medical device industry warns shortages could result without alternative for sterilization.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration building behind FDA logos at a bus stop on the agency's campus in Silver Spring, Md.

FDA says pacemakers, glucose monitors and other devices could be vulnerable to hackers

The agency said that a vulnerability could allow unauthorized users to wirelessly crash devices.

St. Paul firm developing hypertension therapy raises $31 million

Aria has developed a treatment for a deadly form of high blood pressure that often affects middle-aged women.
Medtronic reported unexpectedly strong profits for its third quarter.

Medtronic tops profit estimates despite sluggish sales growth

But sluggish sales of popular devices, coronavirus effect could create headwinds.
Medtronic's Fridley headquarters.

5 years later, suit challenging a $49.9B Medtronic acquisition churns on

$49.9B Covidien deal left some shareholders with tax bills they say were unfair.
Kay Fahey died Feb. 3 at age 77.

Kay Fahey dies at 77 after battling cancer for 30 years

Defying expectations was a running theme in her life.
A Boston Scientific Corporation logo is displayed in Massachusetts in July 2010.

Boston Scientific warns of $40 million hit from coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus could disrupt its supply chain and lead to revenue declines, it cautions.
Kevin McHale, center, seen in 2014 while coaching the Houston Rockets, is part of an investor group suing Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor over ownershi

Kevin McHale among group suing Glen Taylor in dispute over hearing aid firm

The firm's majority owner Glen Taylor denies the allegations in lawsuit.
The Micra pacemaker is delivered through blood vessels and attached without lead wires.

Medtronic gets OK to sell next generation of pacemakers that fit inside the heart

Medtronic's device goes inside the heart and cuts many sources of complications.
The Tendyne Transcatheter Mitral Valve Inplant is a wire-and-mesh device invented in Roseville that has become the first transcatheter valve to get Eu

Heart valve invented in Roseville allows new kind of treatment

Device invented in Roseville allows replacement of mitral valve without invasive open-chest surgery.
Minnesota health care companies raise $1 billion-plus in private funding in 2019

Minnesota health care companies raise $1 billion-plus in private funding in 2019

Early-stage health care companies in Minnesota raised more than $1 billion in private funding last year, a record driven by digital-health companies like Minneapolis insurer…
Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, is essentially closed to business right now.

Minnesota companies starting to feel sting of coronavirus outbreak in China

3M, Medtronic and others are adjusting operations as companies across the U.S. get ready to pivot should the outbreak cause longer-term slowdowns.
Medtronic's Fridley headquarters.

Medtronic facing litigation over surgical staplers and injury reporting

The device maker isn't commenting on litigation but has defended the safety of its stapling systems in a report filed with regulators.
Medtronic closed its Puerto Rican factories to allow employees to take care of their personal needs. This photo was taken in Guanica, which is a littl

Medtronic shuts Puerto Rico factories as workers dig out from quakes

No significant damage was reported. Op­er­ations were halt­ed as em­ploy­ees as­sessed their own situa­tions and tend­ed to per­son­al needs.
Neringa Zymancius, left, led a 2018 protest at the Oak Brook, Ill., headquarters of Sterigenics against the company’s ETO sterilization plant in nea

Med-tech industry anxious as local communities push on toxic chemical use

Plants using ethylene oxide to sterilize medical devices face scrutiny, as ETO is now called carcinogenic
John Haverty was facing amputation until a persistent infection was treated with phage therapy. He recently was able to travel to see the Arches in Ut

Minn. man faced loss of leg after antibiotics failed, but then an old remedy worked

The 62-year-old had 17 surgeries over a decade to rid his leg of a stubborn infection that lingered after knee-implant surgery. He had no way of knowing his eventual cure lay in a bacteria-killing virus known as a "phage," found writhing in a sewer treatment plant.
Verata was founded in 2017 by former Mayo Clinic physician Dr. Jeremy Friese, a radiologist with an MBA who grew frustrated after seeing firsthand the

Former Mayo doctor's Bloomington startup helping hospitals with complicated prior authorization process

Verata is using artificial intelligence to speed prior authorization process.

FDA says Smiths Medical drug-infusion pump recall is Class 1

A software problem with the Smiths Medical devices deemed potentially dangerous or lethal.
Gov. Tim Walz

Gov. Walz hopes to tighten data security at Minn. insurers

The proposal follows revelations about vulnerabilities in computer systems at Minnesota Blue Cross.
Boston Scientific offices in Arden Hills.

FDA says Boston Scientific's new single-use scope a step forward in safety

The FDA-approved single-use device could soon replace those that are reused on patients.
Certain model of the SynchroMed II made between May 2018 and April 2019 have been recalled.

Medtronic issues recall of some models of SynchroMed II drug pump

Medtronic said motors in some SynchroMed II models can seize up.
A whistleblower told trustees he believed Blue Cross was failing to take reasonable protective steps with data.

Minnesota Blue Cross scrambles to boost cyberdefenses

Protecting its 2.8 million users' info is a top priority, the insurer says, and "efforts are ongoing."
The Gonda Building, which is part of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. (GLEN STUBBE/Star Tribune)

Mayo Clinic, maker of Gore-Tex outerwear are teaming up in Crohn's fight

For-profit venture, called Avobis Bio, hopes to market promising stem cell therapy for Crohn's disease.
Michael Sween, 28, of Minneapolis, died on Nov. 8, 2019 in a car accident.

Michael Sween, outdoors enthusiast who battled mental illness, dies at age 28

A world traveler, the Minneapolis man died in his beloved Toyota Land Cruiser while trying to avoid another vehicle that hit a deer.
Mayo Clinic announces joint venture to operate 'mega-hospital' in United Arab Emirates

Mayo Clinic announces joint venture to operate 'mega-hospital' in United Arab Emirates

Aim is to replicate clinic's care in Abu Dhabi center.
In this Aug. 29, 2019 photo, the Medronic logo is reflected in a lake at the Minnesota headquarters in Fridley, Minn.

Medtronic says MiniMed 600-series insulin pumps have potential safety risk

Medtronic issues warning regarding its MiniMed 600-series devices.

FDA approves Medtronic medical balloon for kidney patients

Medtronic's drug-coated device is to keep kidney patients' vessels open.
Rochester cancer-therapy firm to collaborate with drugmaker on melanoma treatment

Rochester cancer-therapy firm to collaborate with drugmaker on melanoma treatment

Vyriad, a company in southeastern Minnesota that is designing viruses to selectively kill cancer cells, has signed a major agreement with the biotech drugmaker Regeneron…
Medronic’s operational headquarters in Fridley. The legal headquarters of Medtronic is in Ireland.

Medtronic beats earnings estimates, talks up innovation

The medical device maker saw growth across all four product groups.

Medical Alley, Accenture to collaborate on value-based health care initiative

Goal is to move toward value-based care.
Robert Ford has worked at Abbott for 23 years, and came up through the company’s diabetes care division.

New Abbott Labs CEO has deep background in medical devices

Robert Ford played key role in St. Jude merger.
Boston Scientific’s Watchman permanently seals off an obscure corridor of the heart where blood clots form when the heart is quivering, allowing pat

Stroke-prevention device with Minnesota ties reaches a key milestone

Boston Scientific's Watchman has become a key tool in treating patients with atrial fibrillation

Patterson Cos. strikes agreement with FTC to settle price-fixing allegations

The dental-supplies firm won't have to pay a fine.

Maple Grove-based Pursuit Vascular sold for $75 million to California firm

Pursuit Vascular, a Maple Grove company whose small venous-access caps can make a big difference in warding off devastating infections, is being acquired by a…

Boston Scientific beats earnings expectations despite challenges

Despite pressure on several fronts, medical device maker Boston Scientific reported quarterly results that were above market expectations on Wednesday, lifting the stock 5%, to…

Pressure mounts for med-tech to show its value

A push to value-based care may not treat all device categories the same under the proposal.
Jolie Holland, a licensed school nurse in the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winstead School District in central Minnesota, prepares an insulin pen for an inject

Minnesota insurers try to address unhealthy cost of insulin in 2020

In 2019, Caitlin Block has paid as much as $552 a month to buy insulin, a drug she needs to stay alive. The 30-year-old Coon…

Health care company shutting down New Hope facility, eliminating over 50 jobs

About 50 at New Hope facility will lose their jobs.
Pat Dillon of the Minnesota High Technology Association

Minnesota High Tech Association to coach firms to win grants

The new accelerator program will help small-tech firms learn how to apply for funding.
Medtronic's Fridley offices.

Medtronic to create $35M settlement fund for implantable drug pump lawsuits

About 500 people would receive settlements from the fund for those who say they were harmed by the SynchroMed II: documents.
Medtronic on Tuesday introduced the Hugo RAS, its robotic system for soft tissue surgery.

Medtronic demonstrates its robotic surgery system, expects to begin selling it in 2 years

Device maker's product would assist in surgeries, be on market in 2 years.
This erroneous email was sent to Allina Health patients on Thursday and Friday as a result of a technical glitch at the health system. Allina says no

Allina Health MyChart users sent erroneous e-mails, raising concerns

Thousands of Minnesotans received the messages saying the e-mail address used to contact them had changed, but Allina is assuring patients that nothing was changed and no data were breached.
Matthew H. Wiederkehr

Matthew H. Wiederkehr, early professional balloonist, dies at 90

He became dedicated later in life to a little-known rosary called the Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows.
Owatonna podiatrist Dr. Barry Butler with a working mock-up of his invention, the SubioMed shoe insert, which uses layers of flexible carbon fiber pad

Bloomington startup's device is making it easier to walk in a cast

SubioMed's device uses a mechanism that makes it easier to walk in a cast or a brace, and reduce lingering pain.
The University of Minnesota is proposing to buy the Shriner’s Hospital on the bluffs of the Mississippi in Minneapolis for $22.5 million. The U inte

U eyes Shriners site in Minneapolis for child brain health research center

$55 million plan is to turn the property into a research site for children's brain health.

Medical device makers see slowdown in sales of highly touted opioid alternative

Manufacturers seek answers to growth decline of promising alternative to addictive drugs.
The TriClip was designed by Abbott Laboratories in Chicago.

Abbott doctor helps move cardiac innovation from the left to right side of heart

A new class of structural heart devices is undergoing testing by Abbott Northwestern patients.
Geoff Martha

New Medtronic CEO's big challenge: Growing revenue in a tough market

Geoff Martha needs to improve shareholder returns and grow revenue in a tough market.
Omar Ishrak, chairman and chief executive, will step down from his CEO role in spring 2020.

Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak to retire in 2020

Executive Vice President Geoff Martha, who led the Covidien acquisition, will succeed him.
Christina Doran, manager at LadiBugs, uses new cold-air technology to kill lice and nits on a client. LadiBugs has begun using a new technology that d

Hot air, cold air, combs: battling lice is a $1.9 billion business

The market has been fundamentally changed by the rise of lice that are resistant to the common over-the-counter treatments.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is the latest insurer to jump into the race to limit consumers spending on insulin.

Blue Cross Minnesota to eliminate insulin co-pays for fully insured members

Blue Cross is the latest insurer in Minnesota to change insulin coverage for next year.
Medtronic's latest profit rose 6% and executives raised their outlook.

Medtronic talks robots as it beats earnings estimates, hikes guidance

Device maker touts a product pipeline that includes a dual-chamber tiny pacemaker.
A Boston Scientific Corporation logo is displayed in Massachusetts in July 2010. (AP file photo.) ORG XMIT: MIN2018051422163682

Boston Sci closes on $4.3 billion deal for British health company BTG

Jobs will be added in Minnesota to manage treatments, devices acquired in the deal for BTG.
Dr. Jacob Bergsland, left, and Nikolai Hiorth co-founded a medical device company called CardioMech, which is developing a minimally invasive system t

Norway company aims to create a device in Twin Cities to treat heart valve disease

CardioMech AS is building its team in Minnesota and plans a funding round soon for its mitral-valve repair system.
A patient holds a vial of insulin during a news conference outside a Windor, Ont. pharmacy on July 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) ORG XMIT: MERed1

UCare is second insurer in Minnesota to unveil $25 cap for insulin

The Minneapolis-based health plan's move comes on heels of similar Medica benefit.
Carolyn Pare, CEO of the Minnesota Health Action Group, will depart the organization at the end of September.

Longtime CEO of Minnesota Health Action Group to retire

Carolyn Pare has led the not-for-profit health care group for 20 years.
Implantable heart monitors accounted for nearly $1 billion in U.S. sales last year and continue to grow, with Medtronic’s Reveal Linq leading the ma

Why is an Ohio hospital getting false alerts from a Medtronic heart monitor?

An Ohio medical center reported a "significant" number of false positives with a Medtronic device and is working with the company on solutions.
This 2015, file photo shows the Food and Drug Administration campus in Silver Spring, Md. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File) ORG XMIT: MIN1906211122490662

FDA to require enhanced warnings on labels of certain drug-coated medical devices

Stents and balloons coated with the drug can remain on the market for PAD.
Sign outside Medica headquarters in Minnetonka.

Medica to cap monthly out-of-pocket insulin costs at $25 beginning Jan. 1

The insurer said it will absorb the cost of spending caps for as many as 6,500 members.

Plaintiffs' attorneys plan to appeal Bair Hugger ruling

Judged tossed 5,000 cases alleging body warmers caused post-surgical infections.
3M's Bair Hugger patient warming system is depicted in a company provided image.

Judge tosses lawsuits from 5,000-plus plaintiffs against 3M warming blanket

Judge said plaintiffs failed to prove that the warming device caused patient infections.