Ten years ago, all-metal hip replacements were expected to revolutionize the industry. The implants, which used metal for both the ball and socket of the hip, were expected to replace the metal and plastic hip joints that had been used previously. Metal and plastic hip joints would often wear out after about 15 years and would need to be replaced. All-metal hip replacements promised more durability.
As a result, all metal implants were initially a popular choice with orthopedic surgeons. About one-third of the 93,000 sold by DePuy Orthopedics, a Johnson & Johnson company went to patients in the United States. However, DePuy, a leading manufacturer of all-metal implants has been named in numerous defective product lawsuits recently due to widespread reports of premature failure and health injuries.
Settlement after a history of failure
Although all metal implants promised more durability than previous models, it was discovered that the devices often failed much earlier, due to the friction generated as the metal components rubbed against one another during use. According to company documents, at least 37 percent of the devices failed after only 4.6 years-eight times the failure rate of previous devices. In addition to causing the replacement to wear out prematurely, it was found that the friction would cause metal particles to be released into the body, causing a host of medical problems.
As a result of the thousands of lawsuits filed because of the device’s problems, DePuy recalled the Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) model in 2010. Most recently, DePuy announced that it would pay at least $2.47 billion to settle the estimated 8,000 lawsuits related to the ASR device. If approved by the court, the DuPuy settlement would be among one of the largest settlements involving a defective medical device. Although the settlement would resolve the majority of the lawsuits involving the ASR device, it would not affect the estimated 4,000 remaining lawsuits involving another all metal device, the Pinnacle, which has been discontinued.
Consult an attorney
The DePuy settlement is a victory for those who have suffered debilitating medical issues as a result of the device. Besides having to undergo surgery to replace the defective device, many of such persons experienced pain and damage to the heart, thyroid, nerves and surrounding tissues, due to the elevated chromium levels in the blood caused by the shredding of metal.
If you have received an all-metal hip replacement, you may be entitled to compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and work to recover all compensation due to you by law.