Hip replacement surgery was supposed to offer a relief from pain and restore the ability for someone to lead an active life. Instead, for many hip implant patients, it has only lead to more pain. For some people, it has even caused severe illnesses when metal from the failing implant gets into the bloodstream.
On October 4, 2011, NBC Nightly News broadcast a report on the early failure of metal-on-metal hip implants. The report called it one of the nation’s largest medical device failures ever. That failure has in turn lead to significant product liability litigation.
DePuy Orthopaedics did not issue a recall for the more than 93,000 existing joints, despite the fact that significant problems were reported as early as 2007. When all-metal implants were first introduced, they were touted as a potential life-long solution for people whose hip joints had worn out. Other types of implants, made of metal and plastic, tend to last about 15 years.
What has happened, however, is that a significant number of the defective joints are failing in five years or less. In some cases, the joint needs to be replaced in a year.
In many cases, the metal is failing or grinding painfully. In addition, small bits of metal that break loose from the grinding of all metal hips have caused serious problems for some patients. In particular, the minerals cobalt and chromium that appear in the metal hips have caused disabling illnesses in some patients.
Due to the reported problems, many orthopedic surgeons have stopped using the all-metal hip replacements entirely. Many are replacing failed metal joints with the more common plastic and metal joints.
Hip Implant Lawsuits
Last year, a group of injured hip implant patients filed suit against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson. That suit now has almost 2,000 plaintiffs. Plaintiffs from anywhere in the U.S., including Pennsylvania, may join the suit, which is being heard in a federal court in Ohio. There is also a set of actions proceeding against DePuy in Texas.
The suits contend that the DePuy artificial hip joint manufactured by Johnson & Johnson is defective and the company didn’t move quickly enough to recall the product or notify doctors and patients when problems first surfaced.
Meanwhile, complaints about defective metal-on-metal implants keep pouring in to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has received 11,000 complaints this year alone.
If you have been injured by a defective hip implant, contact a personal injury lawyer in your area to learn more about how to assert your legal rights.