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Ryan R. Bradley
Ryan R. Bradley
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Silence is not Golden: What we can Learn from the Metal Hip Disaster


Metal Hip Attorney Ryan bradleyOver the past few years, DePuy has come under scrutiny for two of their hip replacement models.  First, in mid-2010, DePuy recalled the Articular Surface Replacement (A.S.R.) system after noting rising high early failure rates.  The A.S.R. hip consisted of a metal ball and cup that was found to generate metallic debris that damaged tissue in some patients or caused major injuries.  In November 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to a multi-billion dollar settlement over the A.S.R. system.

DePuy is not alone however, Metal hips from the Stryker, Biomet, and Wright Medical have all turned out to be dangerous and rife with failures.  In fact, while the DePuy ASR settlement is in its later stages, litigation and settlements are raging on over the DePuy Pinnacle Metal on Metal hip system, the Wright Profemur and Conserve, and the Stryker ABGII and Rejuvenate.

A collection of five bellwether cases is presently being tried over the next few weeks in regard to the DePuy Pinnacle system which has also faced product defect claims.  Similar to Stryker and DePuy ASR,  the Pinnacle model is charged with causing swelling and complications due to metallic debris entering the recipient’s bloodstream. Stryker Metal on Metal hip systems, while in settlement, have had a tremendous impact on Central Illinois and in particular the Peoria and Illinois Valley Area where many cases are yet to be reported.

These lawsuits and settlements should be considered in context with a recent study in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery that found metal-on-metal hip replacement failure rates are two to threefold higher than in other types of artificial implants.  These new developments could have broader implications on other companies who manufacture metal-on-metal hip devices such as the Zimmer Durom Acetabular hip system and Stryker Rejuvenate Modular modular-neck hip system.

However, a potential complication Plaintiffs who bring these claims face is failure of doctors to disclose information early on.  This is by no means to say that the doctors have done anything wrong, and in fact, they are the victims as well since the Metal on Metal hip makers sold them a bill of goods.

There are, however, some surgeons that actually work for the medical device companies.  A 2013 article published in The New York Times found several doctors who worked for Johnson & Johnson on the DePuy hip replacement noted the part’s poor design nearly two years before the recall occurred.  Why might doctors choose to remain silent? It is likely doctors fear speaking out would get them sued or lead to a bad reputation amongst the medical community.  Another possibility is that doctors feel like discussing faults of these parts is a violation of their ethical obligation under the Hippocratic oath.  Finally, it could just be that doctors just have a general aversion to reporting and claim they are too busy to file the paperwork.  Again, the doctors are not the problem, the Companies are the problem since they are driven by the marketing departments and are accountable to shareholders rather than patients.

As a result the burden is on the patients to ask the right questions and become advocates for their care.  As always, if you or a loved on has a metal-on-metal hip made by any manufacturer, from Wright to Stryker, please feel free to contact Koester & Bradley with any questions.

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Illinois Plaintiffs Lawyer by Koester & Bradley