Metal-on-Metal Artificial Hip Implant Issues Continue

It has been deemed “The most widespread medical implant failure in decades…” and those patients suffering through it know just how damaging the failure of this class of medical device products, metal-on-metal artificial hip implants, really is.

According to a recent New York Times article, metal-on-metal artificial hip implant devices not only carry the risks of additional medical treatment, pain, suffering, increased expenses, and a decreased quality of life, but also, medical and legal experts are now projecting the hip implant failures will likely cost taxpayers, insurers, employers and others billions of dollars over the next several years, adding to an ever growing health care crisis. The financial fallout is projected to be extraordinarily high and complex due to the fact that the metal-on-metal hip implant device failures is not isolated to one type, but rather, involve an entire class of medical device products, consisting of various brands, models, companies and manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopedics, Wright Medical Technology, Biomet, Zimmer, and others.

Metal-on-metal artificial hip implant devices consist of a ball and joint, both made of metal, designed to last 15 years or more. But now as reports and studies continue to surface, it is evident that metal-on-metal artificial hip implant devices are prone to failing at high rates within just a few years – far before the claimed 15 year lifespan. The failure of metal-on-metal artificial hip implant devices is largely due to the wear of the metal parts against each other generating debris that is damaging to surrounding tissue, toxic to the blood, and severely crippling to patients.

Until recently, metal-on-metal hip implant devices accounted for close to one-third (1/3) of the estimated 250,000 hip replacements performed each year in the United States, and it is estimated that at least 500,000 patients have been implanted with metal-on-metal artificial hips. Currently, complaints and lawsuits against makers of metal-on-metal hip implant devices have soared past the 5,000 mark.

With the necessity of additional medical treatment and expense, increased complaints and lawsuits, and settlement payouts, insurers, including Medicare, are alerting patients that they plan to recover their expenses from any settlement money that patients receive.

Even more disturbing is a recent study sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which finds that the metal-on-metal devices are actually less safe than their traditional counterparts. In the study, researchers analyzed data from 18 different studies involving more than 3,000 patients along with an additional 830,000 hip replacement operations that were reported in orthopedic registries. The experts concluded that patients who receive a metal hip implant versus a ceramic or polyethylene implant may be twice as likely to need additional surgery to correct problems with the implant.

Researchers were unable to draw any immediate conclusions as to why the metal hip implants appear to have a much higher failure rate than older hip replacement devices. They did, however, advise patients who are about to be fitted with a metal-on-metal implant to speak with their doctor in detail about the device as compared to a traditional hip implant system.

The study represents a significant blow to companies that continue to manufacture metal hip implants. A number of companies, including Wright Medical Technology, Zimmer, Biomet and Johnson & Johnson’s DePuy Orthopedics Division are facing lawsuits from patients who claim they suffered severe pain, swelling, tissue damage, metal poisoning and other complications after receiving a metal-on-metal hip replacement system.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury from an unsafe medical device, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and other injuries. Currently Pope McGlamry is reviewing injuries related to artificial metal-on-metal hip replacements manufactured by DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Zimmer and Wright Medical Technology, Inc. Contact one of our Georgia medical device lawyers or visit our website