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Hip Replacements Gone Wrong: Lawsuits and Settlements

If you’ve had a hip replacement, you’re probably concentrating on healing from your surgery. But what happens when the hip replacement you just received goes wrong? Hip replacements are supposed to provide the patient with more flexibility and less pain, but, in some cases, hip replacements do the opposite.

The advent of metal-on-metal hip replacement technology seemed like a boon to patients, surgeons, and medical device manufacturers. However, many patients found they were experiencing more pain, less flexibility, and the possibility of a host of other afflictions soon after their surgery.

As more of these cases popped up, it became clear to the FDA that something was wrong with certain brands of hip replacement systems.

It’s not an eventuality any patient wants to consider, but it does happen. Hip replacement procedures can sometimes malfunction. You may qualify for a settlement agreement if this has happened to you or a loved one.

The only way to know what you’re owed if you’ve had problems with your hip replacement devices is by speaking with a lawyer, like nurse attorney Eileen Kroll at our law firm. Eileen Kroll knows and understands this kind of procedure and, if applicable, how to file a lawsuit to get you compensation.

Hip Replacement Statistics

In the last five years, there have been 860,000 hip replacement surgeries in the United States. In this type of joint surgery, the patient generally feels moderate to severe discomfort due to the lessening of cartilage between the bones or other medical conditions. Doctors usually recommend exercise and stretching to alleviate the pain, but, if these approaches don’t work, they may schedule a partial or full hip replacement.

In this surgery, surgeons replace part of or all of the hip ball-in-socket joint with either metal, ceramic, or polyethylene. The addition is implanted at the head of the femur and on the pelvic bone in the socket in which the femur fits.

Although many of these are highly successful, with the patient returning to normal activities soon after the surgery, some amount to more pain and suffering.

Many of the devices used in hip replacement surgery have been recalled, which means removing the recalled device and implanting a new one.

Why People Get Hip Replacement

As people age, their joints become stiffer and adversely impact mobility. This is the result of the loss of bone density and loss of the cartilage between the joints. Other existing conditions, like osteoarthritis, can exacerbate the issue.

Doctors suggest hip replacement surgery to patients so they can experience improved mobility and less pain overall. These hip replacement systems can last up to 20 years without maintenance or replacement, but sometimes, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

There are two kinds of hip replacement surgeries you can choose between – anterior and posterior.

Anterior hip replacement

This approach is from the front of the body, where the surgeon makes a 4- to 6-inch incision and does not have to cut through muscle to get to the hip joint to place the implants. Patients are generally able to get back to work much more quickly with this type of hip surgery.

Posterior hip replacement

This surgery accesses the hip joint through the back, and the surgeon has to cut through the buttocks muscle, which can make recovery more lengthy.

Types of Hip Replacements

One of the most common types of hip replacements is a metal-on-metal or MoM replacement. The MoM replacement offers considerable advantages, such as:

  • Less material removed from the ball and socket
  • Diminished chance of joint dislocation
  • Reduced chance of the device breaking

The two types of metal on metal hip replacements are a total resurfacing or a complete replacement.

A total hip replacement consists of a metal ball as the head of the femoral bone, a metal stem in the thigh bone, and a metal cup on the hip that fits the ball to make a working joint.

Hip resurfacing also implants metal into your hips and pelvis. This surgery consists of shaving down the diseased or unworking parts and crowning the trimmed femoral head with a metal cap.

Problems mostly arise with the total hip replacement surgery, but they can also occur with the less-invasive resurfacing procedure.

Problems After Hip Replacement

Some of the side effects that you can run into after hip replacement surgery include metallosis, dislocation, and infection.

Metallosis is, in the purest sense, metal poisoning. The cause of metallosis is often debated in the medical community. Some doctors believe that the allergic reaction to metal occurs because of the metal parts grinding against one another in the body, and releasing tiny shavings of chromium cobalt, which builds up and causes adverse reactions.

Cobalt poisoning can also lead to hives, itching, eczema, or even more severe complications such as the formation of necrotic tissue (called pseudotumors), memory loss, and brain fog.

Some other issues that many patients have with their new metal hips include:

  • The ball joint pops out of place
  • The metal hips wear down
  • Too little lubricant causes the hip part to break
  • The metal hip failed to fuse

The hip replacement lawsuits that have bubbled up over the last two decades often cite these issues as the primary problems that can lead to more surgeries and other avoidable treatments.

Lawsuit Statistics

Although it may seem like a very faint possibility, this type of lawsuit occurs reasonably often. According to court reports, around 29,000 lawsuits have been brought against manufacturers in the United States. Since 2008, over $6.5 billion have been paid out in settlements.

One of the main reasons for this is that the hip replacement industry is continually updating and perfecting its products, which goes through a vetting process by the Food and Drug Administration. In 2016, the FDA strengthened its approval process for metal-on-metal hip implants, which was too late for those who are already suffering from faulty implant issues.

The medical device industry is made up of many private companies, each vying for the top spot. The way for these companies to get to that coveted position is through medical breakthroughs and augmentation of their already successful products. Sometimes, this results in injuries, which can lead to hip replacement lawsuits.

Why People File Lawsuits

Those who opt for hip replacement surgery often do so to avoid future pain and suffering if they’ve already been having problems with their joints. Unfortunately, once you’ve had hip replacement surgery, you may end up in more pain.

The metal-on-metal hip replacement was prevalent in the early 2000s, but have since fallen into disuse because of the many ailments associated with them. As a result, thousands of patients have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, Stryker, and other medical device manufacturers.

Michigan gives you two years from the date of injury to file a civil cause of action for a product liability suit like a metal hip recall case. Statutes of limitations vary not only by state but also by cause of action, which is why it is so crucial to have a law expert on your side in a hip replacement recall settlement case.

Hip Replacement Recalls

From 2002-2013, the FDA began recalling several metal-on-metal hip replacement devices. Some of the companies that were profoundly affected by the FDA’s recall of hip replacements are Johnson & Johnson and Stryker.

DePuy is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It is responsible for manufacturing hip replacement systems such as the ASR Hip System, the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement system, and the DePuy ASR Acetabular system.

The first lawsuit to come out of these faulty devices was settled in 2012 with $200,000 awarded to the patient. As of right now, there are around 7,000 pending lawsuits involving these specific companies, waiting for their time in district court.

DePuy paid a sum of nearly a billion dollars to settle the 6,000 lawsuits involving the Pinnacle hip system in 2019. Even so, there are still 4,500 more cases waiting to be resolved in the Dallas court systems.

All these medical devices were recalled by the FDA in 2012, along with some of the devices made by Stryker.

Another medical device manufacturer, Stryker, makes such systems as the Rejuvenate and the ABG II hip implant. As of January 2013, many of the pending court cases have been blended into an MCL, or multi-county litigation.

What You Should Do

If you or a loved one are a victim of a shoddy medical device, you can take steps to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.

The first thing you should do if you’ve had hip replacement surgery and are experiencing pain, skin issues, or mental slowness is to speak to your doctor. You may hear clicking and grinding from the joint, coupled with pain, or you may observe swelling in your groin area, an indication of an issue.

You may also have some symptoms that seem unrelated to your past surgery, like vision issues, memory problems, or impaired kidney function. A faulty hip replacement can even be the cause of cardiomyopathy, which is a condition that enlarges and weakens your heart muscle.

After speaking with your medical professional, the next step is to talk to a lawyer who is well-versed in cases involving medical malpractice and recalled devices. You need someone on your side to guide you through this confusing process. Hip replacement issues usually necessitate another surgery, which increases the amount of recovery time for the patient and inflicts more pain and suffering.

Knowledgeable medical malpractice lawyers, personal injury lawyers, or product liability attorneys know exactly what you are owed and can negotiate effectively with the lawyers representing the large medical device manufacturers.

What Compensation Looks Like

The jury may award you the damages they think are fair. Some of the aspects that they use to determine this amount include:

  • Types of complications
  • Severity of complications
  • Additional surgeries and medical care
  • The amount of time after surgery until difficulties began
  • Temporary or permanent disability

Metal hips are supposed to last anywhere from 10 to 20 years before they need replacement or maintenance. If you have a hip replacement that has been giving you trouble well before this deadline, it may be time to speak to your doctor and a lawyer.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one has experienced a hip replacement surgery, only to find that instead of more mobility and less pain, the opposite is true, then you may be due compensation.

Tens of thousands of patients have had issues with their hip replacement systems. This is especially true of those systems that were recalled by the FDA around 2012.

If you’ve had this surgery and are experiencing one of the many symptoms that can come with a malfunctioning hip replacement system, you need an experienced lawyer to help guide you through the thorny process of medical malpractice litigation.

Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., has the experience to usher you through the complicated and potentially confusing process of filing a lawsuit against a medical device manufacturer. Our lawyers can help you determine what you are owed, if you can be part of multi-case litigation, and what you need to do to get your compensation.

You got a hip replaced so that you could live life to the fullest; don’t let a medical device stand in the way of your enjoyment. Call our law firm at (866) 868-3779 for a no-obligation case evaluation.

Mary MacInnes grew up in the Northeast and attended school and graduate school there. Professionally, she's been a professor, novelist, and writes for law blogs. In her free time, she likes to travel and read biographies of various Justices of the Peace.

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