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Legal Options For Hip Replacement Woes
By Lucy Carmel, THELAW.TV
Hundreds of thousands of people across the U.S. have had artificial hip prosthesis implanted inside them.
It’s now been determined that these prosthetic devices are doing more harm than good. The metals they’re made of are breaking down in the bodies of patients who have undergone hip replacement surgery. The blood in these patients shows extremely high levels of cobalt and chromium, two of the main metals used to make the hip prosthesis.
It’s unclear as to when hip replacement manufacturers knew that their devices were defective. What is clear, though, is that patients are paying the price.
“People who’ve gone through a very difficult surgery in the first place now have to go through a second surgery to have the hip prosthesis taken out,” says Gary Green, P.A., and President of the Law Offices of Gary Green.
In the meantime, Green says, these patients have to deal with toxic blood poisoning and corrosion of their artificial hips.
Almost all manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip replacement prosthesis have come under fire for their faulty implants. These companies include Stryker Orthopedics, Biomet Inc., Smith and Nephew, Zimmer Holdings, Inc., Johnson & Johnson and DePuy Orthopedics.
Stryker, in particular, is in the spotlight now for its recent voluntary recall of many of its hip prosthesis.
According to Green, the voluntary recall isn’t really a noble act on the part of the manufacturer. The company essentially had to choose between a voluntary recall or a forced recall by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, which would have been more stringent.
“Stryker is acting like a typical insurance company in these recall cases,” says attorney Green. “They’re contacting those who have these detective hips in their bodies and letting them know they’ll cover the medical bills. But they’re not offering to pay them any extra money to go through surgery again.”
An attorney can help secure compensation beyond doctor’s visits and new hip replacement surgery. Patients may also be entitled to payment from pain and suffering and punitive damages.
There are three basic ways to approach a settlement:
- Attorneys may be able to help some patients settle directly with the manufacturers outside of court.
- Class-action cases are beginning to be filed across the country, so patients have the option to try to join one of those. Be advised, though, that there’s a place for class-action suits, and there’s a time to avoid them. These lawsuits are ideal for very small claims that couldn’t have been brought on individually.
- An individual claim is the best option in the case of a hip prosthesis gone awry. A lawsuit individually handled and filed will likely result in a better outcome for the individual patient than a class-action suit.
“To get the full value of an individual case, an individual suit is going to have to be filed,” says Green.