DePuy Hip Recall Compensation in the UK

The DePuy Hip Recall in the UK

In August 2010, a worldwide DePuy hip recall was announced for the DePuy ASR Articular Surface Hip Replacement System and the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System. The DePuy hip recall was made by the products´ manufacturer – DePuy Orthopaedics Inc – after they acknowledged reports from many different countries which indicated that the two hip replacement models had a “higher than expected” failure rate.

The DePuy hip recall in the UK affected approximately ten thousand recipients of the faulty hip replacement devices which were introduced in 2003. Although the majority of these patients may not yet have experienced any side effects from their failing device, it is important that anybody who has been fitted with a recalled DePuy hip replacement system speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity to establish their entitlement to compensation.

What Does a “Higher Than Expected” Failure Rate Mean?

When a hip replacement system “fails”, it can be for a variety of reasons. There may have been a dislocation between the ball at the upper end of the implant and the cup holding it in place, the implant can become loose due to wear and tear on the implant or the hip replacement can fail because of damage to the bone to which it is attached. Infections around the implant which cannot be treated by antibiotics may also require the removal and replacement of a hip device and, although not regarded as a hip replacement “failure”, the consequences can be the same for anybody having to undergo revision surgery.

Hip replacements are supposed to last an average of 20-25 years and provide a new lease of life to those who have them implanted. The “accepted” standard failure rate for hip replacement systems is ≤ 5 per cent over a fifteen year period, and the reason for the DePuy hip recall in the UK was that failure rates of 12 per cent for the DePuy ASR Articular Surface Hip Replacement System and 13 per cent for the DePuy ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System were being reported within five years.

Why Was the DePuy ASR Failure Rate so High?

The reason for the high DePuy ASR failure rate, and consequently the DePuy hip recall, was that friction between the ball and the cup of the faulty hip replacement devices was releasing microscopic particles of cobalt and chromium into the bloodstream with a number of implications to a patient´s health. Most frequently these metallic ions would collect as debris around the hip implant, damaging the bone and tissues to which the implant was attached and causing the implant to loosen.

A greater amount of friction than anticipated between the ball and cup of the faulty hip replacement devices led to the misalignment of the two elements – causing clicking or popping noises whenever a patient walked. Although the noises themselves did not cause any pain to the recipient of the implant, it was a worrying indication that something was amiss with the replacement hip device and – once you review the section below – understandable that the patient could suffer a significant emotional trauma.

What Other Injuries Can Be Sustained from a Recalled DePuy Hip Replacement System?

The range of injuries which can be sustained from the recalled DePuy hip replacement systems is substantial. Whereas symptoms of faulty metal on metal hip replacement devices usually manifest as pain, inflammation and a rash around the implant area, the dispersal of the metallic ions through the blood stream into other areas of the body can result in:-

  • Pains in the hip and groin area when carrying heavy items
  • Pains in the thigh area when walking long distances or rising from a seated position
  • The development of cysts around the body as metallic debris congregates

However, more sinister ailments have come to light concerning the DePuy hip recall in the UK. A BBC/British Medical Journal investigation revealed that as long ago as 2008, high levels of chromium were found in umbilical cords and the placental blood of women in the United States that had given birth after being implanted with faulty hip replacements. In 2011, the Irish Examiner reported that recipients of the faulty hip replacement devices were being given brain scans by the Irish Health Service Executive, and around the same time an article appeared in “The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery” alleging that the potential existed for neurological and cardiovascular issues due to faulty hip replacement devices.

What are the Consequences of a Hip Replacement Failure?

If you feel that you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or are having difficulty with your hip replacement system, you must see a doctor immediately. Chromium and cobalt have both been classified as “probably” carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation. They could congregate anywhere within the body and be responsible for the development of cancer or leukaemia.

Your doctor will conduct a blood test and, should the results show a higher than anticipated level of system toxicity, arrange for an x-ray of the hip implant and an MRI scan to establish damage anywhere else in the body. The ultimate consequence of a hip replacement failure is that you are going to have to undergo revision surgery which may be more complicated that the original surgery due to tissue necrosis around the faulty hip replacement devices, more painful, and from which a longer recovery period may be required.

Are Only Recipients of Recalled DePuy Hip Replacement Systems at Risk?

Although this article focuses on the DePuy hip recall of the ASR hip replacement systems, there are many more faulty hip replacements devices in circulation in the UK. The BBC investigation mentioned above focused on the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement system, but any “large head” (≥36mm) metal on metal hip replacement device could be responsible for the same symptoms as the recalled DePuy hip replacement system.

The current advice issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for recipients of all metal on metal hip implants is to have an annual blood test for the life of the potentially faulty hip replacement devices. If you are a particularly active person, and therefore generating a greater amount of friction between the ball and cup of the recalled DePuy hip replacement, you are advised to increase the frequency of your blood tests. Should it be established that you have sustained an injury due to the recalled DePuy hip replacement you should be entitled to claim DePuy hip recall compensation.

How do I Claim DePuy Hip Recall Compensation?

In order to be eligible to claim compensation for the DePuy hip recall you must have already undergone revision surgery or have revision surgery scheduled by your doctor. The process of making a claim for DePuy hip recall compensation is to first speak with a solicitor and provide him with details of your injury, details of when and where the revision surgery took place (or is scheduled to take place) and the identity number of your hip component if available.

Your claim for DePuy hip recall compensation will be submitted to DePuy´s loss adjusters (a company called Broadspire) and an EClaim number will be issued to you. Broadspire will request that you can complete a medical mandate form to give them the authority to approach your doctor for the medical records relevant to your DePuy hip recall compensation claim.

The authorisation form contains a section where you permit DePuy to take back their faulty hip replacement devices for examination. Your solicitor should advise you to delete this section, and thereby withhold consent, in case the extracted faulty DePuy hip replacement is required as evidence in future litigation.

If you have already been in contact with Broadspire or any agent representing DePuy Orthopaedics Ltd, you should advise your solicitor immediately and provide them with details of any correspondence that has passed between yourselves. You solicitor will then prepare your letter of claim for DePuy hip recall compensation and try to expedite the matter as quickly as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions about DePuy Hip Recall Compensation

Q – How Much DePuy Hip Recall Compensation am I Entitled To?

A – No two claims for DePuy hip recall compensation are identical, even when the injury sustained is the same. A solicitor will have to take into account factors such as your age, gender and general state of health before the diagnosis of an injury attributable to the DePuy hip recall. How the injury and subsequent revision surgery affects/affected your quality of life and ability to participate in day-to-day activities will also be taken into account, as will any psychological trauma you experienced, any costs you incurred which were directly attributable to the injury and your ability to work, if applicable, during an extended recovery period.

Q – How Long Will It Take to Resolve My DePuy Hip Recall Claim?

A – This is an impossible question to answer at this stage. If DePuy Orthopaedics are prepared to settle claims for DePuy hip recall compensation without having to go to court, it may not take very long for your DePuy hip recall claim to be resolved. If the company decides to dispute the overwhelming evidence of negligence against it, it could take considerably longer. The length of time it takes to resolve your claim for DePuy hip recall compensation will also be influenced by the complexity of your individual case and, as your solicitor will want to prepare the strongest possible DePuy hip recall claim on your behalf, he or she will not want to rush the process.

Q – How Much Does it Cost to Make a DePuy Hip Recall Compensation Claim?

A – There are many different scenarios which affect how much it may cost to make a DePuy hip recall compensation claim. Many people already have legal expenses insurance attached to a home contents or car insurance policy, or you may be entitled to free legal representation if you are – or have been – a member of a trade union. Depending on the strength of your DePuy hip recall compensation claim, it may be possible to represent you on a “No Win, No Fee” conditional agreement and details of the most suitable arrangement will be discussed with you when you first speak with a solicitor.

Q – How Long Do I Have in Which to Make a Claim for DePuy Hip Recall Compensation?

A – Claims for DePuy hip recall compensation are made under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, according to which you have three years from the date on which you were diagnosed with an injury attributable to a recalled DePuy hip replacement in which to make a claim. However, the Consumer Protection Act 1987 also stipulates that claims for compensation against a specific product have to be made within ten years of the product being introduced to the market. As the DePuy ASR hip replacement systems were first introduced in the UK in 2003, this would mean that claims for DePuy hip recall compensation would have to be filed prior to the end of 2013.

Q – Can I Claim DePuy Hip Recall Compensation If I Have A Different Faulty Hip Replacement Device?

A -The DePuy hip recall of 2010 affected over ten thousand people in the UK, and forty thousand more could be at risk of injury from other “large head” faulty hip replacement devices. Class action suits are being prepared against DePuy Orthopaedics Inc for injuries sustained by the Pinnacle hip replacement system and against other manufacturers of faulty hip replacement devices including Wright Medical, Zimmer and Smith & Nephew. You should speak with a solicitor to discuss your own personal situation.

Q – Where Can I Get Further Information about the DePuy Hip Recall?

A – If your enquiry is medical, always refer to your doctor or orthopaedic surgeon. Once your medical questions have been answered, any other matter concerning a claim for DePuy hip recall compensation should be addressed to your solicitor. There is a great deal of information on the Internet concerning the DePuy hip recall, but none of it can substitute for speaking directly with a medical or legal professional and receiving relevant, personal and up-to-date advice.


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