Metal on Metal Hip Replacements: How to Handle Recalls 

While developments in the medical industry have resulted in a number of groundbreaking techniques, many of them come at a risk. Hip replacement devices have become very popular, and for individuals who experience mobility issues, these medical advancements can be life-saving, but for some people, these replacements also present serious problems. There have been a number of notable reports within the last decade of defects caused by metal-on-metal hip replacements including debris that becomes lodged in the bodies of patients. Two of the most noticeable cases involved the recall of Styker and DePuy hip replacements. 

Metal on Metal Hip Replacements: What to do if you are Injured

If you are one of the patients who is subject to a hip recall, however, it can be confusing to determine exactly how to proceed. The following will review some helpful information about metal-on-metal hip replacements and the injuries they can cause.

Why Metal-on-Metal Hip Replacements Fail

Artificial hips create a number of risks for a patient’s health in addition to the risks associated with all hip implants. In metal-on-metal hip implants, a metal ball and cup slide against one another while a person walks or runs, which can result in the release of metal fragments into a person’s body. 

Metal can also be released from other parts of the implants as well. Sliding metal surfaces can result in some small metal fragments wearing off of a device. Wear and corrosion of a hip replacement can also result in serious complications. In some situations, metal fragments can even enter a person’s bloodstream. 

The Hip Replacement Process

Hip replacements are being recalled, as well as a number of other medical devices. Recalls of these defective devices can be implemented in a number of ways:

  • Sometimes, a manufacturer of metal on metal hip replacement will issue a recall based on evidence showing dangers posed by the device. 
  • If the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines that a product is defective in nature, it can request the manufacturer to recall the product if the manufacturer has failed to do so voluntarily.
  • The Food and Drug Administration can order a recall from a product manufacturer. If the manufacturer refuses to do so, the Food and Drug Administration is able to initiate legal action against the manufacturer. 

Difficulties Presented by Product Recalls in the U.S.

There are a number of obstacles that make it difficult to track or respond to metal-on-metal hip replacements in the United States. Two of these challenges include:

  • The United States lacks a formal joint registry tracking program to monitor hip replacement patients. These registries, however, are common in a number of other countries and offer the best way to monitor the usage of hip replacement models. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons initiated a national registry program in 2011 which now includes 30,000 patients and marks a substantial step in the right direction. Despite this, the medical device industry in the United States has resisted the creation of a national hip replacement registry in the United States by alleging that the program would be expensive to maintain.
  • Few medical professionals proactively contact patients that they no longer treat to inform them about hip recalls. Furthermore, many medical professionals lack all of the records of medical devices that are implemented into patients. 

What to do if you are Concerned about a Metal on Metal Hip Replacement

There are some helpful tips that people who are concerned that they are about to experience difficulties as a result of metal on metal hip replacement. Some helpful tips include:

  • Return to your orthopedic surgeon annually and inform the doctor about any changes in your contact information. During these meetings, you should ask your doctor about the hip implant that was placed into your body and whether any information has been discovered concerning how the device operates.
  • Request a copy of your surgery report including details about the product identification stickers. Unfortunately, most professionals do not have stickers in their charts. Many times, these stickers are included in the handwritten notes that are used to document the surgery. As a result, it is important to obtain the most comprehensive report of your medical reports possible. Unfortunately, in some situations, medical facilities maintain records for all surgical procedures but fail to retain details about the product stickers.
  • Create a Google alert for the type of hip implant that you received in addition to the manufacturer’s name and model number. This way you can be informed through email if there are any reports of problems involving your metal on metal hip replacements. It is important to avoid using the word “recall” when creating these alerts because you can end up screening out important news events.
  • If a device is recalled, the details will be published on the manufacturer’s website in addition to the Food and Drug Administration. Many times, these sites provide search functions that allow a person to locate safety details about a medical device. In some cases, however, manufacturers issue notices directly to medical professionals for safety issues when a full-sized recall is not necessary. In these situations, details about the hip replacement are not readily available.  
  • Understand that sometimes hip replacements fail, but that there are not any symptoms. If your hip replacement is recalled, there is a specific problem with the replacement that can harm you. Not all defects, however, necessitate additional surgery. If you are not experiencing any symptoms, it is often a better idea to remain observant of the surgical area for any changes. You should discuss these changes with your surgeon who can help you consider your various options to respond. As a result, you should not think that because a hip replacement recall has occurred that you will need additional surgery.

Speak with an Experienced Defective Product Attorney

If you have received a metal on metal hip replacement that has resulted in problems, remember that it is possible to obtain compensation from various parties including the manufacturer. 

Contact an experienced attorney at Ferrara & Gable today to schedule a free case evaluation.