Baby boomers are becoming a bionic generation. When arthritis or joint damage becomes too painful, just head over to the hospital and get a knee replacement. In fact, get two. And throw in an artificial hip.
Half a million knee replacement and 175,000 hip implant surgeries are performed every year, and this number is expected to increase dramatically as the technology improves and consumers become more comfortable with the idea of undergoing these surgeries.
Designing an internal medical device that functions like a complicated joint made of bone, cartilage and muscle is an amazing technological feat. Unfortunately, several of these devices have turned out to be defective and have been recalled, including metal-on-metal hip replacements manufactured by Biomet, DePuy, Smith & Nephew and Zimmer. And recalling a surgically implanted device is not the same thing as recalling an unsafe baby crib or food product.
Voluntary recall by a manufacturer does not absolve them of liability. More than 10,000 people with defective hip implants have filed lawsuits against DePuy Orthopedics, a division of the Johnson & Johnson corporation. The company has put aside $3 billion to pay for the removal and replacement of their devices, as well as legal costs. Hip implants generally last for 15 years before they need to be replaced, but 40 percent of the DePuy devices are expected to fail after only five years — a fact the company failed to disclose.
In addition to undergoing a second major surgery to replace the defective product, metal-on-metal devices can cause other problems, including:
- Metal debris in tissues
- Bone loss
- Hardening of soft tissue
- Implant dislocation
If you have one of the recalled hip implants, speak with an attorney who has experience with defective medical device litigation before you accept a settlement offer from the manufacturer.