Many older individuals need hip replacement surgery because their hip joint has become diseased or damaged due to osteoarthritis, physical injury, or a number of other conditions. During hip replacement surgery, your doctor removes your hip joint and replaces it with an artificial ball-and-socket joint. From 2003 to 2010, many doctors implanted metal-on-metal DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Systems and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing Systems into patients who required hip replacement. These replacement hips were later the subject of a recall. Before the DePuy hip recall took effect, however, 93,000 patients received the defective hip implants worldwide.
Q. Why were the DePuy hip implants recalled?
In August 2010, DePuy Orthopaedics, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, issued a voluntary recall of its ASR hip system. The recall was due to the replacement hips’ low rate of success. The British Orthopaedic Association and British Hip Society found that DePuy’s ASR XL device had a failure rate of 21 percent at four years and 49 percent at six years. These figures are significantly lower than the hips’ intended lifespan of 15 years. When a hip implant fails, many patients experience painful, debilitating health issues. As a result, patients must undergo revision surgery to replace the defective hip.
Q: What are the types of health issues you may experience?
DePuy ASR hip implants are made up of chromium and cobalt metals. In metal-on-metal hip implants, the ball and socket rub against each other, releasing metal particles into your bloodstream. Many patients have an adverse reaction to these metal particles and develop health problems as a result, including skin rash, thyroid dysfunction, renal function impairment, heart disease, and sensory and psychological changes. Other symptoms can include hip and groin pain, numbness, local swelling and difficulty with walking. It’s important to note that women are at a higher risk than men for health problems associated with hip implant failure.
Q. Do I have a legal claim against DePuy?
Under product liability law, manufacturers are required to meet certain safety standards. Manufacturers and sellers who fail to meet these standards and consequently release a dangerous or defective product onto the market may be held liable for any injuries that result from the defect.
Patients who have suffered hip failure as a result of a recalled DePuy hip, may wish to sue the company under a product liability theory. These patients may argue that the recalled DePuy hips suffered a design defect that caused them to fail at a high rate, placing patients in danger. If the court finds that DePuy was negligent in releasing the defective hips, the company could be held liable for any medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering that resulted from the injury.
In addition, manufacturers have a duty to provide adequate warnings about the risks associated with their products. With respect to DePuy hip recall cases, patients may argue that the company failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks associated with metal-on-metal replacement hips.
Q. Have there been any lawsuits related to the DePuy hip recall?
Thousands of patients have filed hip failure lawsuits against DePuy. Many of these suits have been consolidated into a multidistrict litigation matter. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio is overseeing this matter during pretrial proceedings and discovery. Multidistrict litigation cases are not class action lawsuits. Instead, each lawsuit is heard as a separate case.
In addition to the multidistrict cases, there are thousands of other DePuy hip recall lawsuits in various states throughout the country. While some of these suits have been settled out of court, others have gone to trial, including one suit in which the plaintiff was awarded millions of dollars in damages.
Q. If you have a hip implant, what actions should you take?
You should first consult with your doctor to find out what type of hip implant you have. If you discover your hip implant was included in the DePuy hip recall, you should make an appointment with your doctor for an examination and blood work.
If your doctor discovers problems with your hip implant, you should contact a medical product liability attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help inform you about your rights and offer you advice about the next steps to take. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations, meaning your first visit will be free of charge.