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The recent recall of DePuy’s ASR™ Hip System has shone a new spotlight on medical implant failures, and an April 2, 2010, article from the New York Times revealed some surprising information that should concern anyone with an implant.
According to the New York Times article, the million or so artificial hips and knees implanted each year in the United States are normally not guaranteed. In other words, there is no product warranty to cover the cost of replacement if the implants are defective. In a world where defibrillators, breast implants, and many other medical devices come with warranties, it’s hard to imagine that manufacturers of these artificial joints wouldn’t offer similar protections. But instead, they shift the cost or replacing defective devices to taxpayers, policyholders, and patients.
They often also try to shift blame: The surgeon must have installed the implant incorrectly, the patient caused or contributed to the injuries through his or her activities post-surgery, and so forth. Additionally, many of these devices are expected to last about 15 years with the normal wear and tear we put on our joints, so manufacturers often look at early failures as a known risk that comes with the territory.
But DePuy couldn’t ignore the failure statistics. According to the company’s own website, approximately 12% of patients (one in eight) who had received DePuy’s ASR resurfacing device and 13% of patients (one in eight) who had received DePuy’s ASR total hip replacement needed to have a revision surgery— a second surgery to replace the defective implant— within five years of the original operation. According to an article at Arthritis Today, this failure rate is about twice the industry average.
DePuy has posted recall information on its website and states that the company intends to cover reasonable and customary costs of testing and treatment, including revision surgery if needed, but it could nevertheless be advantageous to get help from an experienced product defect attorney. The same is true with any medical implant recall. An attorney can evaluate whether a claim should be brought against anyone else in addition to DePuy, help the claim process move forward more smoothly, and will likely obtain more compensation for your pain and suffering.
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