Hip replacement surgery has been touted over the last 40 years as one of the most significant device innovations. Millions of people who suffer from arthritis or hip fractures have found relief.
For thousands of patients however, this did not happen and instead they suffered debilitating consequences.
Multiple manufacturers have faced lawsuits with regards to a faulty design in their hip replacement devices.
Plaintiffs claim that these metal-on-metal hip replacement devices have caused serious harm and damage due to the following reasons:
- Defective design of the device
- Lack of proper testing prior to selling the device
- Failure to warm patients of the risk
Because of these reasons, countless patients have suffered consequences after having hip replacement surgery. Regardless of the type of device used, there are certain risks associated with the surgery.
The most common complications that may arise include:
- Blood clots
- Device loosening
- Differing leg lengths
For those that have a metal-on-metal device implanted, it has been shown to increase the likelihood of loosening as well as failing early. This is due to the fact that metal particles from the device release into one’s body and may cause bones and tissues to weaken.
The ions, or metal debris, that is released into the body can also cause a condition known as metallosis. Metallosis is a rare but life threatening condition that occurs when metal debris builds up in the soft tissues of the body.
For patients of a hip replacement, the build-up is usually around the hip joint. The tissue will begin to show a grey discoloration, indicating that the tissue is deprived of oxygen and dying.
If a patient also suffers from metal sensitivity, this condition can cause metal poisoning.
The most common symptoms one may experience with metallosis include:
- Severe joint pain
- Implant loosening
- Local tissue necrosis (tissue dying)
- Implant failure
- Deterioration of the bone
- Formation of pseudotumors or cysts
If the metal ions enter the blood stream as well, it can cause an additional set of problems including:
- Cognitive problems
- Emotional imbalance
- Problems with the nervous system
- Debilitating headaches
Metal on Metal Hip Replacement Lawsuits
Many patients who have suffered negative side effects have needed multiple revision surgeries to correct the problems as well as entirely new replacement surgery. Lawsuits have been brought forth to cover the tremendous medical bills associated with this treatment. For instance, hip revision surgery can easily run tens of thousands of dollars.
The companies and their hip replacements that are currently facing lawsuits include:
DePuy Orthopaedics – ASR XL Acetabular System, ASR Hip Resurfacing System, Pinnacle
Zimmer Holdings – Durom Cup
Stryker Orthopaedics – ABG II modular-neck hip stems, Rejuvenate
Biomet – M2a metal-on-metal hip devices
Wright Medical Technology – Conserve Plus, Profemur Z Hip Stem
Smith & Nephew – Emperion Hip System, Birmingham Hip
OMNI – Apex K2
DePuy Class Action Lawsuit
The largest company to face litigation is Johnson & Johnson with regards to their DePuy units. There have been over 12,000 lawsuits filed on behalf of patients who claim their ASR hip devices have failed to work properly.
DePuy’s ASR hip was an all-metal replacement that was touted as longer lasting than other devices on the market. Instead, they started failing prematurely in thousands of patients. In August of 2010, both ASR hip systems were recalled by DePuy due to higher than normal failure rates. At trail, evidence was presented that showed up to 40% of devices failed within five years.
In 2013, DePuy settled with 7,500 of the claims for a total of $2.5 billion.
Another one of DePuy’s devices, the Pinnacle Ultramet implant, faces thousands of lawsuits as well due to fault design. The Pinnacle was approved by the FDA in 2000 and comes with five options for the ball and socket surfaces. They are:
- Ceramic on polyethylene
- Metal on polyethylene
- Ceramic on metal
- Ceramic on ceramic
- Metal on metal
The complications experienced with metal on metal devices have led to a large number of lawsuits. While thousands of cases are still pending, a judge sided with five plaintiffs in March of 2015, ordering DePuy to pay $502 million in damages.
In June of 2016, another judge ruled against Johnson & Johnson, awarding the plaintiffs $500 million in damages. Afterwards, Johnson & Johnson requested the courts put the remaining cases on hold while they appealed the verdict but their request was denied.
The judge who denied the request state that with more than 8,000 trails pending, “the court cannot grant a stay every time plaintiffs win a trial.” The trial for the third case is set to begin this month (September 2016).
Lawyers have expressed hope that if Johnson & Johnson loses the third suit as well, it will be enough for them to settle with the remaining plaintiffs.
The information provided in this article is meant to be informative only and does not constitute medical or legal advice in any way. If you have any legal questions, it is best to speak with a licensed lawyer for legal advice. Additionally, if you have had a hip replacement and have any concerning symptoms, please contact a medical professional for proper diagnosis and recommended treatment.