Hip replacement surgeries are very serious and often involve a long and painful recovery process. Many patients who have hip implants or replacements have suffered from pain and immobility for years and the surgery is a last resort solution to alleviate their worsening symptoms.
It is a surgery of necessity – one that most people dread. Most of the time the hip replacement implant is a wonderful thing, that allows people to walk again and be mobile without intense pain.
Unfortunately, in a number of cases, hip implants can also cause severe problems, especially if the implants were metal-on-metal. Such is the case with the DePuy Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants.
Metal-on-metal hip implant devices were originally designed, and touted by manufacturers, to last longer than the ceramic and plastic hip implants already available. However, for a large number of patients, it became clear that metal-on-metal implants were not what they were promised and terrible issues like metallosis ensued.
For patients expecting increased comfort and mobility, they found themselves suffering from dangerous complications and side effects within the first five years post-implant. For many patients, the only way to correct the problem was to have revision surgery.
Complications And Side Effects Of The Depuy Pinnacle Hip Implants
The hope of people having him implant surgery is to live their life more comfortable and without pain. The promise of a longer-lasting and the more durable implant was a draw for many doctors and patients.
Unfortunately, they were marketed as a medical device that would not live up to its expectations. Worse still, it has been alleged that DePuy, a division of Johnson & Johnson, was believed to have to know of the products’ faults but they still failed to take action.
The problem with metal-on-metal implants is that the metal parts fret against each other, which causes loosening, corrosion and failure of the implant.
In addition, the constant metal-against-metal causes tiny metal particles to enter surrounding tissues, as well as the bloodstream. An accumulation of these tiny metal particles puts patients at risk for metal toxicity which can have dire consequences if left untreated.
The most commonly reported complications and side effects of the DePuy Pinnacle hip implant include:
- Chronic pain in the hip
- Decreased ability to walk
- Inflammation and swelling
- Metallosis, or metal poisoning
- Tissue damage and/or death, otherwise known as necrosis
- Bone loss, which can affect the success of a revision surgery
- Non-cancerous soft-tissue pseudo-tumors called bursal cysts
- The necessity for a revision surgery
For most people suffering from these complications and side effects, the only way to resolve the problem is with revision surgery. This requires patients to undergo an additional painful surgical procedure and an even longer recovery process. Additionally, in many cases, there has been tissue and/or bone damage, which makes it less likely for the new hip implant to function properly.
Pending Litigation Against Depuy For Faulty Hip Implants
Medical device manufacturers have a legal obligation to the public. Before putting a product on the market, they are supposed to ensure that the device has been properly designed, manufactured and well-tested.
In addition, if at any time the manufacturer of a medical device finds that there are design or manufacturing flaws, or people are suffering from complications or side-effects, they are required to immediately notify the public – and issue a recall if necessary.
The problems with DePuy hip replacement products began in 2010 with the recall of their ASR hip replacement. After a report found that a significant number of patients suffered due to the device failing, DePuy issued a voluntary recall.
DePuy also came out with another version of the metal-on-metal hip implant called the Pinnacle. While the Pinnacle’s design is very similar to the previously recalled ASR, it has never been recalled.
As of May 2018, there have been more than 8,000 lawsuits involving the DePuy hip implant devices.
In the ASR lawsuits, DePuy has paid out approximately $4.4 billion in settlements.
While the Pinnacle trials are on-going, plaintiffs have been awarded nearly $1.7 billion in three hip implant trials, as of May 2018.
- September 2014: The first Pinnacle bellwether trial; DePuy wins the trial and no damages were awarded.
- March 2016: The plaintiffs won against DePuy and were awarded total damages of $502 million. The amount awarded was later reduced to $151 million under state law damage caps.
- December 2016: The plaintiffs won against DePuy and were awarded total damages of $1.04 billion. The amount awarded was later reduced to $543 million under state law damage caps.
The hip implant lawsuits that have been filed are not class action lawsuits. They are, instead, filed as individual cases and then combined in one court for the ease of all parties. This is known as Multi Districting Litigation, or MDL.
An MDL allows individual plaintiffs to receive damages that correspond to their specific injuries, rather than an even split amongst the class.
Do I Have a Lawsuit?
In order to file a hip replacement lawsuit, you must be able to show that you have suffered an injury. This can include any of the various complications and side effects are known to stem from metal-on-metal hip implants.
If you have had a hip implant, you should find out the following information from your doctor:
- Was my hip implant recalled? If so, for what reason?
- Of what material is my medical device made?
- Who is the manufacturer of my medical device and what is the model name?
If your hip implant is a metal-on-metal device, you should have your blood tested for high levels of metal even if you are symptom free. There have been cases where it takes a long time for symptoms to appear and by then, significant damage has occurred to the surrounding tissue and bone.
If you are suffering from a faulty hip replacement or a hip implant injury like metallosis, you should be aware of your rights under the law. Hip implant or replacement surgery cases are extremely complicated and involve a knowledge of not only the law. It is necessary to hire an experienced hip implant attorney who has become versed in the medical, chemical, and engineering components of this type of case. Contact SMT Legal today.