According to an analysis performed by The New York Times, complaints about so-called metal on metal hip implants registered by the Food and Drug Administration to date in 2011 surpass the number received in the previous four years combined. That number is more than 5,000.
The typical life expectancy of a hip implant is about 15 years, but the registered complaints seem to suggest that many recipients are having them removed after just a few years because they have failed. At numbers approaching 250,000, hip replacements are one of the most common medical procedures in the United States. It is estimated that approximately one third of all hip replacements each year are done with the metal on metal type of implants. Complications can range from pain to severe reactions to chromium and cobalt particles that separate from the device as they wear inside the body.
Articular Surface Replacement, or A.S.R., devices manufactured by Johnson & Johnson account for about seventy five percent of the complaints reviewed by analysts. DePuy Orthopaedics, a Johnson & Johnson company, recalled the devices last year. The recall notice states in part:
“We regret that this recall will be concerning for patients, their family members and surgeons,” said David Floyd, president, DePuy Orthopaedics. “We are committed to assisting patients and health care providers by providing information through multiple channels and paying for the cost of doctor visits, tests and procedures associated with the recall.”
DePuy intends to cover reasonable and customary costs of monitoring and treatment for services, including revision surgeries, associated with the recall of ASR.
DePuy is providing hospitals, surgeons and patients with comprehensive information about the recall to help them determine next steps. Patients and health care professionals with questions related to this recall should visit depuy.com. As of August 27, patients in the U.S. and Canada can contact DePuy by calling 888-627-2677 Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST. Patients in other countries can place a collect call to the U.S. at +1 813-287-1651 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Because of problems with the devices, many surgeons have simply stopped using them, regardless of the manufacturer, instead favoring devices that are a combination of metal and plastic components. In any event, if you are experiencing any problems related to hip implants, immediately consult with your orthopaedic physician and then follow-up with the manufacturer to find out if there are any recalls issued or other information that may help with your situation.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.