Beginning in 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) became aware of an increasing number of problems associated with hip replacement. A combination of manufacturing problems and substandard quality control often produced prosthetic devices that failed after surgical insertion. Medical implant issues occur more frequently with metal-on-metal devices but may also happen with appliances comprised of ceramic and metal. Liability for these malfunctions generally falls to the manufacturer but occasionally surgeons performing procedures are guilty of negligence.
Overview of Hip Prosthetics
Hip replacement surgeries are one of the more common procedures performed in the United States. Statistics indicate surgeons perform approximately 250,000 hip replacements annually. Secondary to disease processes or fractures, patients require removal of the femoral head and possibly replacement of the acetabulum, which together form the hip ball joint. Ceramic, metal and plastic materials typically comprise the construction of hip replacement components. Manufacturers must create medical implants that resist wear and tear of normal use while not causing bodily rejection.
Generally, hip implants last 15 years or longer before patients experience problems. In recent years, patients were experiencing symptoms of device failure anywhere from immediately following surgery to three years after undergoing a procedure. One third of the complaints registered with the FDA concern devices consisting of all metal components. During normal motion of the hip joint, the chromium or cobalt components endure friction from rubbing over each other.
This friction may produce metal shavings that cause groin or hip pain, localized swelling, and the inability to walk normally. Internally, inflammation occurs, which may cause tissue destruction, including bone fractures. Some patients also experience complete joint dislocation. In rare instances, friction of metal components emits ions that travel through the bloodstream, causing heart, thyroid, and nervous system issues. Patients exhibiting these symptoms often require additional surgery for implant removal and replacement.
According to an article presented by the New York Times, at least 75 percent of hip replacement complaints evolve around the Articular Surface Replacement (S.R.A.) device manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. The company recalled the device in 2010. Patients also experience difficulties with a number of Stryker Trident Implant devices.
The majority of medical implant lawsuits involve claims against the manufacturer or retailer of the faulty products. Medical malpractice suits occur when health care providers provide substandard levels of care that cause injury or death. Surgeons inserting hip replacement prosthetics having a history of malfunction may be found guilty of medical malpractice. Orthopedic specialists delaying care for patients experiencing complications because of faulty medical implant devices that result in unnecessary injury might also be held accountable.
Individuals or loved ones of patients, suffering injuries from a malfunctioning hip replacement implant or injuries related to delays in care should contact an experienced personal injury attorney. Specially trained attorneys typically review the details surrounding the case free of charge.