Lawsuits Against Manufacturers of Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants: Things You Need to Know as a Recipient-Part 1

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law and Carole C. Schriefer, R.N., J.D., The Health Law Firm

In August 2010, Johnson and Johnson’s DePuy Orthopaedics recalled 93,000 ASR XL hip implants after a significant percentage failed within five years. (Click here to read the press release from DePuy.) In July 2012, Stryker Orthopaedics issued a voluntary recall of the Rejuvenate and ABG II modular-neck femoral hip systems. (Click here to see the press release from Stryker.) Both recalls came after reports of hip replacement failures and issues with metallosis, which is metal poisoning from the chromium and cobalt ions in the metal-on-metal hip implants.

Patients who have the recalled hip implants are undergoing revision surgery to have the defective hips removed and new types of artificial hips substituted.

Our firm has recently undertaken plaintiffs’ products liability cases against the manufacturers of defective hip implants, including both the DePuy and the Stryker hip implants. We are able to combine our knowledge of the health care industry with our litigation experience for the benefit of our clients. In this blog series, we would like to share the top things all metal-on-metal hip implant patients need to know about their medical and legal options.

1.  The Stryker Rejuvenate and ABG II Modular-Neck Stems, and DePuy’s ASR XL Hip Implants Were Recalled Due to a High Failure Rate.

Stryker announced the recall due to issues of mechanically assisted corrosion and release of metal ions of Cobalt and Chromium that affect surrounding tissue and bone over time. In its press release, Stryker did not address the specific failure rate of its product. However, in Australia, Sweden and Great Britain, medical devices, such as the Stryker hip implant systems, are monitored in mandatory national registries. This allows failures to be pinpointed quickly. The Australian registry first noticed the high failure rate in the Stryker hip implant systems.

In the press release, DePuy said the reason for the recall of its ASR XL hip implant was due to the number of patients who required a second hip replacement procedure, called a revision surgery. Within five years 12 percent (12%) of the DePuy hips failed and within seven years 44 percent (44%) allegedly failed in Australia.


2.  Signs Your Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant is Failing.

The most common symptoms associated with failing hip implants are unbearable pain, difficulty walking, inflammation and the hip implant locking up. Most patients who received metal-on-metal hip implants seem to suffer from muscle, nerve and bone damage as the metallic components of the device rub against each other, causing metallic elements to be released into the body and absorbed into the bloodstream and body tissue.

Even if you are not experiencing pain, you may still have chromium and cobalt poisoning, which can get worse as time goes on. You will want to talk to your orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon can perform an X-ray, and can have blood work done to measure your metal ion levels.

Stryker sent out letters to orthopedic surgeons urging them to perform clinical exams on patients who had the Stryker hip implant systems installed. Click here to read that letter to surgeons.


3.  The Dangers of Excess Cobalt and Chromium in Your Body.

Some of the clients we are representing in hip implant cases against DePuy and Stryker have signs and symptoms of respiratory illnesses similar to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other illnesses.

Signs of this include general fatigue, persistent coughing, shortness of breath (dyspnea), wheezing and a history of colds or acute bronchitis. For other symptoms of COPD, click here to read an article on MD Guidelines.

Although we haven’t seen any medical literature linking respiratory illnesses directly to hip implants, we are aware of medical literature linking them to exposure to heavy metals that are in some hip implants, predominantly cobalt.

Patients with metal-on-metal hip implants, specifically the ones recalled by manufacturers DePuy and Stryker, have demonstrated elevated levels of cobalt and chromium in laboratory test results.

Click here to read a previous blog we wrote on the association of heavy metals and respiratory illnesses.


Other Metal-on-Metal Hip Implants Recalled.

We’ve also learned of a number of other manufacturers that are producing orthopedic implant products accused of being defective. These products include the Biomet metal-on-metal hip implant, the Wright hip implant, the Zimmer Durom Cup and the Zimmer NexGen Knee.
 
If you received any of these products and have experienced pain, swelling, high levels of metal in your bloodstream, a corrective revision surgery or other complications, we may be able to help you obtain compensation.


Check Back for More Blogs.

Be sure to check our blog frequently to read the next blog in this series.

Contact an Attorney Experienced in Products Liability Litigation.
 
Although The Health Law Firm represents predominantly physicians and other health care providers, we are involved in products liability litigation. At the request of our clients, we have agreed to take on and prosecute a number of hip implant cases against their manufacturers for the patients. We currently are representing several plaintiff patients with DePuy hip implants and several plaintiff patients with Stryker hip implants.

We are able to combine our knowledge of the health care industry with our litigation experience for the benefit of patients. If you received a DePuy, Stryker or any metal hip replacement and have experienced pain, swelling, high levels of metal in your blood, a corrective revision surgery, or other complications, we may be able to help you. To learn more about your legal rights, contact The Health Law Firm for a consultation today.

To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.


Comments?

Do you think some manufacturers rushed certain orthopedic products into the market without adequate testing? Have you experienced complications for a metal-on-metal hip implant? Please leave thoughtful comments below.


About the Authors: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law.  He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice.  Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area.  www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.
 
Carole C. Schriefer is a nurse-attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com  The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone:  (407) 331-6620.


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5/1/2013

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