Artificial hips and knees need a lemon law,” so says Consumer Reports, who also note that with the proliferation of joint replacement failures (nearly 20% hip and 10% of knees), consumers and their insurance companies are left holding the bag.
THE CASE FOR IMPLANT DEVICE LEMON LAWS
Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports makes a good case, pointing out that when you buy a car that has a defective part you are entitled to take it back to the dealer for a fix that the manufacturer — not the consumer — pays for. They say the same philosophy should extend to artificial knee and hip implants.
“While patients may be told by their surgeon how long a device can be expected to last, they rarely get a guarantee in writing since most hip and knee implants do not come with a warranty,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project.
According to information gathered by The Safe Patient Project from the Food and Drug Administration on hip and knee implant recalls over the past 10 years, all major manufacturers had recalled a product or line of products and some of those recalled products posed significant health risks.
Roughly 750,000 Americans have received metal-on-metal hip implants, hyped to outlast their ceramic and plastic competitors. But as we’ve seen in the case of Stryker Rejuvenate and ABGII, not only were these devices more likely to fail, but some patients are experiencing debilitating and life-threatening symptoms such as metallosis, heart damage, and neurological problems.
Also, revision surgeries more frequently require longer hospital stays than initial implant placement procedures and pose additional risks. Not to mention, more expense — additional expenses that are most often passed onto consumers and their insurance companies.
Consumers Union is recommending manufacturers of hip and knee implants give patients warranties, guaranteeing to replace defective devices at no cost to them or their insurance companies. It’s a move they believe might encourage companies to safer and more durable devices.
They’ve got a point, as we’ve seen with Stryker, many hip and knee implants are allowed on the market on the FDA’s fast track 510(k) clearance process, skipping the proper review process for safety and effectiveness by the FDA.
The Safe Patient Project thinks this is a mistake and is urging the makers of hip and knee implants, like DePuy and Stryker to provide a 20-year warranty covering the full cost of the revision surgery (device, surgeon, hospital costs, and patient out-of-pocket expenses.) They would also like to see a clear system established for patients that features a toll-free phone line and a registration number to track their claim’s process and that does not eliminate the patient’s right to sue if he or she activates their warranty.
We’ll just have to wait and see whether or not the FDA and hip and knee replacement manufacturers decide to do the right thing in the best interests of the consumer.
Do you have questions about your legal rights concerning a metal on metal hip replacement failure? Our personal injury attorneys at Meshbesher & Spence are here to help and get you the compensation you deserve. Please contact our office in order to protect your legal rights. We can be reached at 888-728-9866