Just last year, DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, undertook a voluntary recall of defective prosthetic hips used in hip replacement surgeries. The company allegedly started receiving complaints about the defective products in 2007, but it did not recall the hip replacements until 2010.
A number of multimillion-dollar lawsuits have been filed across the U.S. seeking compensation for patients who had the faulty prosthetic hips implanted. According to the Tennessean, about a dozen residents of Middle Tennessee have joined those suing DePuy for product liability, recently filing a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Nashville.
According to the lawsuits, the products involved are the ASR Hip Resurfacing System and the ASR XL Acetabular System, both manufactured by DePuy. Approximately 13,000 people worldwide received hip replacement surgery during the period the products were available, and it is unknown how many of them may have received the faulty medical products.
Faulty prosthetic hips may require replacement; may shed metal debris
Last year, studies showed that in the first five years, up to one in eight patients who received one of the two now-recalled hip replacement systems has required a second surgery to correct problems.
Some of the lawsuits also claim that the replacement hips can also shed metal debris into the body, which can cause toxic levels of poisonous metals to build up in the surrounding bone and tissue and perhaps enter the bloodstream. The lawsuits also say that the faulty prosthetics cause pain, inflammation and infection, and may inhibit mobility.
"Some of my clients have already had to have their hips replaced within one to two years," said one personal injury lawyer representing patients who are suing DePuy. "Others are concerned about the materials inside them. As I'm sure you can imagine, it's very stressful for them."
DePuy has responded to the recall and spate of product liability suits by saying that patient safety is the company's highest priority.
"DePuy intends to cover reasonable and customary costs of testing and treatment, including revision surgery if it is necessary, for reasons related to the recall," the company said in a statement e-mailed to reporters. "DePuy also will pay for reasonable expenses related to receiving care, such as lost wages and travel costs."
Patients who have had hip replacement surgery in the past few years can call DePuy's help line for more information. That number is 888-627-2677.
If you believe you could be affected by the hip replacement recall -- or if you don't know if your replacement hip is included in the recall -- you should consider calling an attorney. He or she can help you get the information you need and, if your replacement hip is affected, help you evaluate any settlement offers you receive from DePuy.
Source: The Tennessean, "Middle Tennesseans join lawsuit against prosthetic hip maker," Brandon Gee, January 16, 2011