An increase in the number of metal on metal hip implant compensation claims is likely following revelations that medical regulators are revising their advice for patients who have received metal on metal hip replacement systems in the UK.
Advisors to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) want to extend the advice already provided for patients who received the recalled DePuy hip implant which was withdrawn from use in August 2010. Currently, patients are being recommended to have the implant x-rayed on an annual basis and have a blood test taken to check for high levels of “system toxicity”.
Concerns exist that microscopic particles of chromium and cobalt – displaced when friction occurs between the metal ball and cup of the implant – are entering the bloodstream and causing damage to the patient´s organs and neurological system. These concerns are in addition to the high volume of failure rates seen with the recalled DePuy ASR metal on metal hip replacement systems which have been responsible for patients experiencing hip inflammation, infection and tissue necrosis.
Stephen Cannon, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, has advised that the bone wear and tissue necrosis caused by these metal on metal hip implants can make revision surgery more complicated, more painful to the patient and requiring a longer post-operative period of rehabilitation. Consequently, not only is the number of metal on metal hip implant injury compensation claims expected to increase, but also how much compensation for replacement hip implant surgery each victim is entitled to.
Following the DePuy metal on metal hip implant recall, the MHRA told orthopaedic surgeons to contact every hip replacement patient to ensure they were monitored. However Professor Joe Dias, president of the British Orthopaedic Association, claims that only 41 per cent of patients who received a DePuy metal on metal hip implant were registered on the National Orthopaedic Register and, although many may have undergone the recommended checks without their details being centrally logged, he was concerned that some may never have been contacted.
It is not certain exactly what new advice will be issued by the MHRA, or when the new recommendations will be announced; however, with a higher awareness of the health risks presented by the recalled DePuy metal on metal hip implants and more people having to undergo difficult revision surgery, the number of metal-on-metal hip implant compensation claims will surely rise.
The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued new advice for patients with metal on metal (MoM) hip replacement devices due to an increased number of illnesses being reported attributable to metal particles from the MoM hip replacement devices entering the blood stream.
In a number of cases it has been reported that microscopic traces of chromium and cobalt have caused illnesses with recipient´s hearts, nervous systems, thyroid glands and kidneys. This is addition to the more common problems associated with MoM hip replacement devices such as inflammation in the hip area, pain in the groin and a change in the recipient´s ability to walk as friction develops between the metal ball and cup of the MoM hip replacement devices.
The FDA has recommended that patients with MoM hip replacement devices should consult with their doctor should they experience chest pains or a shortage or breath, deterioration in vision or hearing, fatigue and coldness, or a change in urination habits. Although these symptoms cannot be confirmed as being attributable to a failure in the MoM hip replacement devices until such time as the results of a blood test have been reviewed by an orthopaedic surgeon, an early diagnosis can potentially save those with MoM hip replacement devices a considerable amount of pain and discomfort if revision surgery is required.
The same microscopic particles which are responsible for these symptoms are also know to wear down the bone around the implant area and cause tissue necrosis. These issues make revision surgery of MoM hip replacement devices far more complicated and less likely to succeed. Patients undergoing revision surgery where the bone and tissues are not fully intact also require a longer rehabilitation period to recover from their operation and return to normal life.
What this would mean for those making injury compensation claims is that settlements of compensation for MoM hip replacement devices would have to reflect the increased level of pain and recovery time in addition to compensation for the personal injury they have sustained. However, according to the advice issued by the FDA, it is the patient´s best interests to monitor their health carefully for signs of illness which could be due to the potential system toxicity of MoM hip replacement devices.