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(MHRA) want to extend the advice already provided for patients who received the recalled DePuy hip implant which was withdrawn from use in August 2010.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.