Lawyer’s Concerns Over ‘Alarming’ Number Of Hip Replacement Failures

Over 10,000 Affected By Device Recall And Face Further Corrective Surgery

17.07.2012

A leading medical lawyer representing more than 100 patients hit by health problems from a controversial ‘metal-on-metal’ hip replacement has expressed serious concerns over the number of patients still coming forward and urged anyone worried they might be affected to get in touch with their surgeon immediately.

Gary Walker a product liability solicitor at Irwin Mitchell said many patients are having to undergo revision surgery placing an ‘enormous strain’ on the NHS in terms of both cost and time and warned that despite the recall being announced 18 months ago some hospitals are only now recalling patients.

Since 2002 more than 10,000 patients in the UK were fitted with a hip replacement device called the ASR which uses metal as a replacement for the joint and many have been recalled to hospitals around the UK for review. Components used within the artificial joint were causing build up of fluid around the joint (pseudo-tumours) and blood poisoning – with many left in excruciating pain and some facing longer-term problems with their movement and further surgery.

The device was recalled in Australia in December 2009 but not until August 2010 in UK, despite a safety warning from The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (the UK agency responsible for ensuring that medical devices are safe) in March that year.

Gary Walker, a product liability solicitor at Irwin Mitchell representing over 100 patients affected, says some hospitals have only recalled people in the past couple of months and there may still be some patients who are not aware that the implant they have received may be failing.

Irwin Mitchell is now taking legal action against De Puy International Limited (a member of the Johnson & Johnson group of companies) who produced the ASR device.

Mr Walker said: “Over 10,000 people received this type of device but we still don’t know the full extent as many problems may not yet have developed. We urge anyone who thinks they may be affected by the recall to get in touch with their surgeon or GP as soon as possible to discuss what their next steps are.

“The current guidance is that anyone with this type of implant need annual check-ups with their surgeon to identify if the implant is failing.  These check-ups should include monitoring the level of metal in the blood, x-rays and MRI scans.  If any problems are identified then a patient may need to have surgery to replace the faulty implant.  This is placing an enormous strain on the NHS in terms of both cost and the precious time of doctors who are having to treat patients.

“This recall is very worrying for the thousands of patients in the UK who have had hip replacement surgery in the last few years.  Patient safety must by the priority of all those involved in healthcare and in production of medical devices (including hip replacements).  The problems seen with the ASR and other similar hip implants and more recently with the PIP breast implant scandal raise serious questions about how dangerous medical devices and pharmaceuticals make it onto the market.  There are strong reasons to argue that the regulation of medical devices needs to be reviewed to ensure that the safety of the public is paramount.”

“Hip replacement surgery is meant to improve a patient’s quality of life and clearly this is not the case for a proportion of patients who have received the ASR device who have then gone on to suffer problems, needed further surgery and ended up in a worse position.

“This device was designed for active people who rely on being able to get around easily so they can care for their grandchildren or children. But my clients have told me that they have been in lots of pain and discomfort and have had to stop work and cancel holidays. Through no fault of their own many people are now having to go through further surgery to correct problems that should not have been allowed to happen.

“The failure figures for the device are above the national guidelines with more devices failing than should be, and much quicker than expected. Many patients have been in extreme pain from these devices which could have been recalled much earlier.”

Our specialist personal injury solicitors will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you have suffered as the result of metal-on-hip implants. View our Metal-On-Metal Hip Implants Claims page for more information.