Making Faulty Hip Replacement Claims in the USA
Faulty hip replacements have received a lot of media attention since the DePuy ASR recall in August 2010, but whereas much of the focus has been on individual cases, there has been little information about making faulty hip replacement claims in the USA. One of the problems is that no two faulty hip replacements are identical, and inasmuch as this article aims to provide general guidance for making faulty hip replacement claims in the USA, it is no substitute for seeking advice which is specifically related to your own personal circumstances from an experienced personal injury lawyer.
The History of Faulty Hip Replacements
The most frequently cited examples of faulty hip replacements concern the “metal on metal” hip replacement systems which were first introduced to the USA in 1991. By 1997, the Birmingham Metal on Metal Hip Resurfacing implant was seen as a longer-lasting alternative to the more commonly used hip replacements that had a metal head seated within a polyethylene cup. At the time, distribution of these metal on metal hip replacement systems was tightly controlled and only selected patients could receive them.
With a lower rate of wear, less risk of osteolysis and fewer reports of dislocation, more manufacturers started developing their own metal on metal hip replacement systems despite warnings of the damage that could be caused by metallic ions released into the bloodstream. As commercial interests overtook the health and safety of those who were implanted with metal on metal hip replacement systems, medical device regulators caved in to the demands of manufacturers to allow metal on metal hip replacement systems onto the market without any prior clinical testing.
In the USA, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) – the Department of Health agency “responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe” – were not even told about design changes to the metal on metal hip replacement systems. It was one of these design changes – the introduction of a larger diameter head – which is responsible for many of the faulty hip replacements, and a growing number of faulty hip replacement claims for compensation.
What is Faulty with the Faulty Hip Replacements?
The reason for the DePuy ASR recall, and several others preceding it, was that a “higher than expected” failure rate was identified in the faulty hip replacements. This failure rate was several times higher than the accepted industry standard and was caused by the forewarned metallic ions being released into the bloodstream; damaging the bone to which the metal on metal hip replacement system had been attached and causing the implant to loosen.
Tissue necrosis was also identified, as was considerable chromium and cobalt metal debris – classified by the World Health Organisation as a “probable” carcinogen – not just adjacent to the faulty hip replacement, but dispersed throughout the body. In the United States, high levels of the metallic ions were discovered in the placental blood of women who had been recipients of faulty hip replacements, links were established between faulty hip replacements and neurological injury, and research is still ongoing to determine whether a connection can be confirmed between faulty hip replacements and bladder cancer.
The injuries listed above are extreme examples of why there has been so much focus on faulty hip replacements and, more typically, symptoms of a faulty hip replacement will include:-
- A clicking or popping sensation coming from the faulty hip replacement when walking
- Inflammation and pain around the implant area
- Pain in the hip joint when carrying a heavy load
- Rashes and cysts developing on any part of the body
- Swelling and fluid retention around the hip and groin area
- Pain in the thigh and groin area when rising from a seated position
- Fatigue, memory loss and headaches
- Hearing and visual problems
Inasmuch as these may appear minor considerations compared to the development of cancer or even leUSAaemia, once a blood test and x-ray has confirmed the cause of the symptoms to be a faulty hip replacement, all patients will have to undergo complicated and painful revision surgery without ever knowing how much poisonous metal debris is still circulating in their blood stream.
Eligibility to Make Faulty Hip Replacement Claims in the USA
Faulty hip replacement claims in the USA are made under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions. In order to seek compensation for faulty hip replacements in the USA it has to be shown that the faulty hip replacement you received was defective at the time it was introduced to the market, defective at the time you received it and was responsible for causing you an injury.
Those criteria may seem straightforward, but design changes made to metal on metal hip replacements systems between the time the faulty hip replacements were introduced to the market and implanted in you may complicate the issue, as will any injury you have sustained due to surgical error when implanting the faulty hip replacements or an externally caused infection.
With few exceptions, you will only be eligible to make faulty hip replacement claims in the USA once you have undergone revision surgery or once revision surgery is scheduled. If you are in any doubt about your entitlement to compensation for faulty hip implants it is in your best interests to discuss the circumstances of your injury with a personal injury compensation lawyer.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Your eligibility to make faulty hip replacement claims is limited under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 to products which have been on the market for less than ten years. If you intend to make faulty hip replacement compensation claims against DePuy for their ASR Articular Surface Hip Replacement System or ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System, please note these faulty hip replacements were introduced to the market in 2003, and faulty hip replacement claims for these recalled DePuy products will have to be filed before the end of 2013.
How to Make Faulty Hip Replacement Claims in the USA
The first stage of making faulty hip replacement claims in the USA is to discuss your injury and how it has affected your quality of life with a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer will want to know as much detail as possible in order to make an assessment of your eligibility to claim faulty hip replacement compensation, from a description of the symptoms of your injury all the way through to your recovery from revision surgery and, if possible, the component number of the explanted faulty hip replacement.
Your lawyer will compile the strongest possible claim for faulty hip replacement compensation on your behalf and send a letter of claim to the manufacturer of the faulty hip replacements. Your claim will be registered and you will be sent a medical mandate form seeking permission to access your medical records. It is okay to complete this form and send it back, but DELETE ANY SECTION WHICH AUTHORISES THE RETURN OF THE EXPLANTED FAULTY HIP REPLACEMENT. Your lawyer may require this as evidence if your claim for faulty hip replacement compensation goes to court.
If the manufacturer admits liability for your injury, he will make an offer of settlement and your lawyer will advise you whether this is a fair and adequate settlement based on the criteria he has used to compile your claim for faulty hip replacement compensation (see below for details of what is included). If your lawyer feels that the offer of faulty hip replacement compensation is too low, he will negotiate on your behalf until an appropriate agreement is reached. If the manufacturer contests liability or contests how much compensation is being claimed, court action will be necessary. This may be in the form of a class action suit with other people making faulty hip replacement claims or as an individual claim for faulty hip replacement compensation depending on what is best for your circumstances.
* Please note: This process is based on the DePuy faulty hip replacement claims procedure. Your lawyer will guide you through the exact procedure for your specific faulty hip replacement. DePuy have already admitted liability for their faulty hip replacements, but their offer of compensation is inadequate.
How Much Compensation for Faulty Hip Replacements Will I Get?
All faulty hip replacement claims for compensation are calculated on an individual basis and take into account your age, gender and general state of health before you were diagnosed with an injury attributable to a faulty hip replacement. The extent of your injury will be considered and whether bone wear and tissue necrosis has made – or will make – revision surgery more complicated.
The length of your recovery will affect factors such as your loss of amenity, the amount of time you have to stay away from work and exist on State benefits rather than an earned income. Faulty hip replacement claims should also consider the “secondary victims” of a faulty hip replacement injury – loved ones who now have to care for you, or children who are denied full parental support.
The impact of revision surgery can also cause significant emotional trauma, as can periods of immobility during rehabilitation. Fears of system toxicity after revision surgery has taken place may cause psychological injury, and these are just some of the considerations that a lawyer will ask you about when making an initial assessment of your claim for faulty hip replacement compensation.
Further Information on Faulty Hip Replacement Claims for Compensation
If you would like further information on faulty hip replacement claims for compensation, you are invited to call our service and speak directly with a lawyer experienced in making claims for faulty hip replacements in the USA. Our lawyer will be able to answer any questions you may have about your specific personal circumstances, provide current and accurate advice about compensation for faulty hip replacements and guide you through any procedures you are unclear about.
You can use the opportunity to have a free assessment of your entitlement to faulty hip replacement compensation without any obligation on you to proceed with a claim, and discuss whether your claim for faulty hip replacement compensation would qualify for “Contingency Fee” legal representation. Our lines are open seven days a week, twenty four hours a day, or you can use our free call-back facility to request that a lawyer calls you back at a time which is most convenient for you.
Having to undergo revision surgery is a painful and debilitating experience. The recovery period may seem endless and you may be worried about any post-surgical system toxicity that may yet be discovered. We understand all your concerns, and we guarantee to treat your call courteously, helpfully and in complete confidentiality.