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America’s Hip Implant Failure Crisis

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Pensacola, FLAttorney Ben Gordon, who has more than a decade of experience litigating against defective hip implant manufacturers, has some harsh words for the industry.

Over the last decade, Gordon says, manufacturers hungry to expand sales, rushed to market with defective, untested, failure-prone devices that are having a devastating impact on patients, doctors, health insurance companies and the health care system as a whole.

“Based on what I have seen over the last decade, I would have to be bedridden before I would consider having a hip implant,” says Gordon, an attorney with Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Rafferty & Proctor, P.A. in Florida.

Gordon will be speaking at the Mass Torts Made Perfect convention in Las Vegas this week on what he calls a “health crisis” brought on by defective hip implants.

Metal-on-metal marketing plan

In 2001, about 100,000 hip implants were being used primarily for older patients. But, beginning around 2001, medical device manufacturers like DePuy went forward with metal-on-metal implants that were projected to double the lifespan of the hip replacements, from 15 to 30 years. The increased longevity of the devices made them suitable for younger patients.

“Without any scientific evidence, the industry convinced the entire orthopedic medical community that this device could be put in younger and younger people. It was a marketing plan to sell three to four times as many devices and if you look at the data, you can see that by 2010 they were selling 300,000 to 400,000 devices because they were now viable for people in their 50s, 40s and even 30s,” says Gordon, who is part of the lead council committee in the recent litigation against Stryker, one of the several hip implant replacement companies currently facing legal action.

“As it turns out, the metal-on-metal hip implant does not last longer,” says Gordon. “Generally, they last two to four years. Most case studies show a hip implant is good for 27 to 44 months. Certainly there are people whose devices last five to seven years, but it is rare for these devices to last anywhere close to the 15 years that their predecessors got, much less the 20 to 40 years doctors were led to believe.”

The National Joint Registries

As part of his evidence to support his claims, Gordon points to the National Joint Registries (NJRs) that are kept in Britain, Australia and Europe, where the DePuy ASR and other hip replacement devices were also sold.

“Because of the NJRs,” says Gordon, “the implant failures became readily apparent. Apart from the anecdotal evidence that we see and hear about, it was obvious from the NJR data that there was a statistically significant number of failures.”

Failure rates range from 10 to 50 percent, depending on which company made the device.

“This all started with DePuy and the ASR hip implant debacle,” says Gordon.

Other companies followed between 2001 and 2010 with similar metal-on-metal implants, and it soon became clear that there were problems with the Zimmer Durom Cup implants, the Pinnacle, the Smith and Nephew hip implant, and the Stryker hip implants.

“You have no idea how many orthopedic surgeons I know that are so unhappy with these devices,” says Gordon. “Their patients come back to them with extreme problems. The failure rate of these implants is so high that it has created a crisis of unhealthy and unhappy people in the health care system. Meanwhile, the device companies move on to the next product while the public, the health care system, doctors, health insurers are saddled with huge costs and serious problems.”

You can sense Gordon’s outrage after seeing so many people hobbled by hip implants.

“I have been representing clients for many years and what they have gone through is unnecessary,” he says. “If the devices had not gone to market the way they did, tens of thousands of people would have been saved a lot of suffering.”

The metallosis effect

The most common problems with the metal-on-metal hip replacements are reactions to the metal debris created by the grinding of the metal cup and ball.

“The problems range from a condition called metallosis, which essentially means any kind of inflammation caused by a reaction to the metal particulate, all the way to aseptic lymphocytic vasculitis-associated lesions,” says Gordon. “Tissue, bone, muscle react to the corrosion and particulate and metal debris.

“There are some hip implants that are titanium; however, it is mostly the cobalt chromium ions that are ionizing off of the cobalt head or cup and then picked up by lymphocytes and other cells and spread through the patient’s body, causing a severe localized reaction that results in muscle and tissue death.

“Simply put, the muscles are shredded,” says Gordon. “The marketing promises people an improved, active lifestyle, but people end up going through complicated revision surgeries and as a result, their mobility is often compromised.

“The doctors can only do so much to rebuild the muscle tissues. People are left with a severe gait disturbance called Trendelenburg gait, or an Abductor Lurch caused by severe weakness in the lower limb muscles. They generally walk with a cane or a walker,” says Gordon, who has represented dozens and dozens of clients in personal injury cases against hip implant manufacturers over the years.

Recently, some health care providers are refusing to provide coverage in cases where the hip implant was defective, leaving patients on the hook for medical costs related to repairing the damage done by hip replacements. They are left with only one option to try and recoup - litigation against the manufacturer.


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Posted by

hi my name is Malvina (melb..australia)...this is for Lianne Slinger...i too had hip replacement in Jan implant is Sulzer too and basically been suffering in silence as no1 believes you..i too hadnt been aware of this this controversy till i heard the channel 7 news in melbourne in April 2016 ...did the cobalt and chromium testing as im told by my family doctor ..pathologist and toxiologist i still have a high reading for a 16yr old implant waiting to see how to have the implant removed as i cant afford to go private and no solicitor will help me fight for my rights pain and suffering thought out all these years ...i know we are all suffering and i pray god will take away our pain and suffering but something truely has to be done to relieve us all ....god bless you all

Posted by

I too have the pennical hip story is lengthy, as with everyone who's fighting this fight against J and J. My hip collapsed and I had a total hip replacement. Which never healed correctly. Unfortunately the surgeon would not see me anymore and left town. Yep! The Next surgeons mad about the mess as i recall he was going to be working long hrs, and hope to get a good fit. Didn't happen. Wouldn't fit, but it's still in me. He wouldn't even take the rod from my femur, cause I was so weak. Now i have developed Lupus during these surgeries, and why this new surgeon ordered the same pennical hip to replace it with, I can't say. Of course how was he to know it had bad parts because j n j was never forced to recall it. I got extremely sick after my 2nd surgery, before I even left hospital my fever would shoot upwards of 103 and 104, every evening before bed. Took 2 yrs to get metal testing done.BTW ran fever for 5 mos after the surgery and Test results were the chromium and cobolt level dangerously high. Now my hip has drawn up, hurts all the time,I walk with cane,if I walk at all lately. I cannot have another surgery because the 1st metal on metal ate up the tissue and bone to the point of no return. I can't begin to tell you the suffering my family and I have been through because of this defective hip. I need my lawsuit money before I die, is that too much to ask of a company who's literally ruined my life?

Posted by

I had zimmer versys hip replacement in 2007. I have unsteady gaite, headaches, severe weakness, severe fatigue, memory loss, brain leasions. 19 doctors so far. Not being treated for anything. I have caught 8 doctors flat lying to me. One surgeon refused to see me at all. 5 neurologists told me it's not my hip but also told me they don't know anything about cobalt sensitivity.
Mr slinger, my advice to you is get the hip removed before it kills you.

Posted by

Hi, I had a Zulzer THR in November 1999, have been sick for many years, and wasn't until last year that I was told about this Cobalt / Chromium poisoning.
Apparently their was a Recall from Sulzer in relation to parts used from Oct 99- July 00, as I said I was done in Nov 99.
My surgeon has never told me about anything.
I spent 36 days in hospital last year and followed by three weeks at home in a hospital bed as I couldn't walk.
I still haven't had revision surgery as I'm trying to find the right surgeon who will help, think I've recently found one.
I suffer from chronic vertigo and Trigeminal neuralgia along with many other neurological problems, sweats, headaches, falling over, psuedotumour in my groin, lost 13kgs in weight as I have chronic nausea, along with many other problems which seem to be the same for many of us.
Looking for others who also have had a
Sulzer hip.
Their was a billion dollar lawsuit against them in 2001.
Their was a story in The Age newspaper here in Australia on the 5th of April in regards to hip replacements, and Sulzer did not respond prior to the story being published, they then saw the story online and asked the Age to remove their name from the article as they no longer owned the medical side and is now owned by Zimmer, the journalist replied that I was very sick and obviously no reply.


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