Hip replacements are one of the most common surgeries in the United States. Degenerative conditions and injuries can result in debilitating pain. Fortunately for thousands of patients, hip replacement surgery provides welcome relief and the ability to resume normal activity. As with all medical technology, the hip replacement industry has evolved over the years in an effort to provide increasingly effective products. In doing so, manufacturers began moving away from plastic and ceramic replacements in favor of all-metal designs, which they claimed were more flexible and durable. Unfortunately, the metal devices have been linked to incapacitating injuries, and the industry is facing lawsuits in the tens of thousands. Contact a Boston Injury Lawyer.
First Jury Award Over $8.3 Million
The first manufacturer to pull out of the all-metal business is the DePuy division of Johnson & Johnson. However, they are not likely to be the last. According to the New York Times, all other manufacturers are expected to follow as the early failure rates are staggeringly high. Johnson & Johnson alone is facing at least 13,300 lawsuits. In addition, recent awards to victims of the metal replacements have been high, with the first jury award being in excess of $8.3 million. This case was quickly decided in favor of the victim and will likely set the bar for future lawsuits. Although an industry exit is good news for future hip replacement patients, it does little to help the thousands of people already implanted with the metal design.
Is the FDA’s Antiquated Approval Process to Blame?
The FDA’s approval process for metal hip replacements may be partially to blame for the early failure rate and injuries. Hip replacements are not considered ‘essential medical devices’ and are therefore subject to a markedly less stringent approval process. Essential devices, such as artificial hearts for example, require significant tests including human testing. Metal hip replacements went to market without a single human test.
Metal hip replacements began to show problems early on. In general, hip replacements should last at least a decade, possibly more. However, metal designs began failing in the first few years. Even worse, many of the complications are potentially fatal, resulting in infections, cobalt and chromium poisoning, and even pseudotumors. The cause? Friction between metal pieces leads to metal shedding, also known as fretting. Depuy recalled two designs of metal hip devices in 2010, but by that time 93,000 patients had already been implanted with the recalled devices. Other manufacturers, such as Smith & Nephew, Stryker, and Zimmer Holdings have also been implicated in the lawsuits.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Premier Injury Law Firm
If you or a loved one has been the recipient of an all-metal hip replacement, it is in your best interest to contact an injury lawyer right away. The devices can lead to debilitating, and potentially fatal, injuries. Even if you haven’t begun to experience pain or complications from your metal device, future problems may arise. There is a current trend toward high jury awards for victims, and the time to act is now. The legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP has been helping accident and injury victims for nearly 50 years. Our injury attorneys have an impressive record of obtaining compensation for clients, and we want to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.