Hip Replacement Recalls in the UK

Introduction to Hip Replacement Recall Compensation

In August 2010, a hip replacement recall was announced by DePuy Orthopaedics Inc in relation to two of their metal on metal hip implants – the ASR Articular Surface System and ASR XL Acetabular System. The reason given for the hip replacement recall was that there was evidence to show that these specific models had a “higher than expected” failure rate.

This “higher than expected” failure rate was due to the DePuy metal on metal hip implants shedding a significant amount of metallic debris which caused damage to the supporting hip bone and surrounding tissue, resulting in the hip replacement loosening and ultimately dislocating. Because of the high number of patients in the UK who were recipients of DePuy ASR hip replacement systems, the DePuy hip replacement recall received a lot of media attention; however there are many other metal on metal hip implants in circulation for which the same problems exist.

Patients who have received any metal on metal hip implant (especially implants which have a “large head” of 36mm or more) are now being advised by the UK Medical Regulator to have annual blood tests to ensure against “system toxicity” – a condition where cobalt and chromium is present in more than 7 parts per billion, and an indicator of a failing metal on metal hip implant. Where this condition exists, patients may be required to have revision surgery to replace their faulty metal on metal hip implants – a surgical procedure which can be complicated, painful and from which it may take a long time to recover.

Those patients for whom revision surgery is necessary may be entitled to claim hip replacement recall compensation.

Eligibility for Hip Replacement Recall Compensation

In order to be eligible for hip replacement recall compensation, it is not necessary for the hip implant in question to have actually been recalled. There are three criteria which have to be satisfied in order to be eligible for hip replacement recall compensation:-

  • That the metal on metal hip implants were defective when you originally received them
  • That you sustained an injury due directly to the metal on metal hip implants
  • That the defect which caused the injury was present when the product was introduced to the market

In the case of the DePuy hip replacement recall, there is overwhelming evidence that the implants were defective at the time they were introduced to the market, and the only qualification that has to be satisfied in order to claim hip replacement recall compensation is that an injury has been diagnosed which is directly attributable to a product defect rather than a surgeon´s poor technique or an external infection.

Only 20 per cent of patients in the UK who have been implanted with metal on metal hip implants received a recalled DePuy product, and patients with other models of metal on metal hip implants may be wondering if they are entitled to hip replacement recall compensation.

Many other companies have indeed ordered a hip replacement recall as the list below demonstrates, but provided that the three criteria above can be fulfilled, you should be eligible to make a claim for hip replacement recall compensation.

  • Biomet Implants (2001 – St. Gobain Desmarquest, 2008 – Modular Microplasty Cup Inserter)
  • Wright Medical (2004 – Conserve® Plus and Conserve® Total Models)
  • Smith & Nephew (2007 – Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System)
  • Stryker Corp. (2008 – Trident Hip Implant System)
  • Zimmer (2008 – Durom Cup Hip Replacement)
  • DePuy Orthopaedics (2010 – ASR Articular Surface System and ASR XL Acetabular System)

Class action suits for hip replacement recall compensation are already in preparation in the United States for metal on metal hip implants which do not appear on the above list – most noticeably the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement system which was the subject of a joint BBC/British Medical Journal investigation in February 2012.

How Hip Replacement Recall Compensation is Calculated

There are many different considerations which need to be included in calculations for hip replacement recall compensation and consequently no two hip replacement recall compensation claims are identical – even when the injuries sustained are the same. A solicitor will assess your claim for hip replacement recall compensation and advise you how much compensation you may be entitled to receive based on the following factors:-

The Extent and Severity of Your Injury – Some injuries from metal on metal hip implants are limited to an inflammation and pain around the hip implant area. Others, due to high levels of cobalt and chromium released by metal on metal hip implants into the bloodstream, can develop into cancer and leukaemia.

The Damage Caused by System Toxicity – All revision surgery for metal on metal hip implants is painful, but if there has been a significant amount of tissue damage caused by system toxicity, revision surgery can be complicated and lengthy. An additional recovery period may also be required depending of the success of the operation.

Your Age, Gender and General State of Health – Young males who, other than a bad hip, are in a good state of health will recover from revision surgery far quicker than older females with a poor bone structure who have a low immune system against infection. The longer it takes to recover from revision surgery, the longer it will be before a patient is able to return to a full, active live.

Your Employment Status – Younger recipients of metal on metal hip implants are likely to still be of working age when undergoing revision surgery, and the time it takes to make a full recovery from the operation may affect your income more than that of a pensioner who will continue to receive the same state benefits throughout his rehabilitation.

Your “Loss of Amenity” – “Loss of Amenity” is a term which relates to your lost capability to perform day-to-day activities. This does only include work tasks or household chores (although they matter), but the participation in social and leisure pursuits. If you are unable to enjoy the same quality of life as you were before an injury attributable to a hip replacement recall, you are entitled to compensation.

Any Financial Costs – Your financial situation should also not suffer due to a hip replacement recall and, in addition to any lost income you may experience, you should also be able to include any expenses you have incurred which are directly attributable to a hip replacement recall in your claim for hip replacement recall compensation.

Psychological Injury – Many people have a genuine fear of hospitals and operations, and the prospect of having to undergo revision surgery can be justifiably intimidating. Furthermore, it is conceivable that patients who are diagnosed with a high level of system toxicity will also suffer an emotional trauma while they wait to discover if any permanent damage to their vital organs has occurred.

Secondary Victims – The secondary victims of injuries caused by metal on metal hip implants should also not be forgotten, and a hip replacement recall compensation claim should consider the partner who is no longer able to rely on a recovering patient for support, the child who now is denied a previous level of parental care or the parent who is no longer able to get help from a son or daughter.

The Process for Claiming Hip Replacement Recall Compensation

The process for claiming compensation for hip replacement compensation is going to vary considerably depending on the manufacturer of the faulty metal on metal hip implants. In most cases, a solicitor will compile a letter of claim to the negligent manufacturer and arrange for you to sign a medical mandate form to enable the company to have access to your relevant medical records. If you are a patient who received one of the systems in the DePuy hip replacement recall DO NOT SIGN THE DEPUY CONSENT FORM without first speaking to a solicitor.

If the company responsible for manufacturing the faulty metal on metal hip implants is prepared to admit liability, a settlement will be negotiated by your solicitor in the quickest possible time. If the company contests liability, it may be necessary to claim hip replacement compensation through the courts, which will take considerably longer and incur significant costs.

How Much Does a Hip Replacement Recall Compensation Claim Cost?

The costs of making a hip replacement compensation claim can vary considerably depending on the complexity of your claim and whether litigation in court is necessary. For many claimants legal expenses cover is often included in an existing household contents or car insurance policy and this may be sufficient to fund a hip replacement recall compensation claim. Alternatively, for claims with a strong chance of success, your solicitor may be prepared to represent you on a “No Win, No Fee” basis.

The conditions of “No Win, No Fee” agreements may vary depending on which solicitor you choose, but generally “No Win, No Fee” representation means that if a solicitor fails to win your claim for hip replacement recall compensation, you will not owe them anything in legal fees. You may be liable for any expenses (disbursements) that the solicitor has incurred in the preparation of your claim and the defendants legal costs, however these expenses can be indemnified with an insurance policy known as “After the Event”. Your solicitor will explain the options available to you after he assesses your claim for hip replacement recall compensation.

There is a Time Limit on Making Claims for Hip Replacement Recall Compensation

Claims for hip replacement recall compensation are made under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 which allows you three years from the date on which you discover that you have an injury attributable to metal on metal hip implants to make a hip replacement recall compensation claim. This means that if a doctor advises you that you have a higher than acceptable level of cobalt and chromium in your blood, and that you are going to need revision surgery to replace your hip implant, it is the date on which you were told by your doctor that is considered to be the “date of knowledge” rather than the date on which the surgery takes place.

A complication to this time limit exists inasmuch as the Consumer Protection Act 1987 stipulates that a claim for hip replacement compensation can only be made within ten years of the metal on metal hip implants being introduced to the market. For patients who were victims of the ASR DePuy hip replacement recall (which was first introduced to the UK in 2003), claims for hip replacement recall compensation have to be made before the end of 2013. For other models of metal on metal hip implants, please speak with your solicitor.

Further Information on Hip Replacement Recall Compensation

This article provides general information about hip replacement recall compensation in the UK, but is no substitute for individual, current professional advice relevant to your individual circumstances. If you have any medical concerns about metal on metal hip implants, never delay in seeking advice from a doctor or orthopaedic surgeon.

It is in your best interests to speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity – especially if you have just been informed that revision surgery is necessary. With the prospect of a forthcoming operation and concerns about how this will affect your life and the lives of those close to you, it is sensible to leave the arrangements for hip replacement recall compensation to a solicitor and focus on your personal situation.


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