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Consumers Union Calls for a Warranty on Hip and Knee Implants to Protect Patients: Can This Solve Problems for Patients?

Hip and knee implants are common to replace damaged and aging joints, and Consumer Reports writes that aggressive marketing to aging baby boomers and young consumers is likely to result in increased demand for these procedures in the future. By 2030, the number of hip and knee replacement surgeries is expected to quadruple. This means that more than four million people each year will get a replacement hip or a replacement knee. approved-630325-m.jpg

Hip and knee replacement products should provide increased mobility and a more pain-free life to patients, but unfortunately this has not proved to be the case for many patients who had defective hip implant products implanted. With demand for hip replacement devices expected to grow so dramatically, our Boston defective hip implant lawyers know that steps need to be taken to protect the public from being harmed by dangerous medical devices. Consumer Reports has suggested that hip implant manufacturers be required to provide a warranty, but is this the answer?

Is a Warranty the Right Solution to Hip and Knee Implant Problems?

Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, has called for hip and knee implant manufacturers to offer a warranty on hip replacement products. This call-to-action was prompted by the problems in recent years with defective hip implant devices.

In the past decade, every single major manufacturer has had to recall either a product or a line of products as a result of defects, including the Johnson & Johnson ASR XL metal-on-metal hip implant, which had a reported five-year failure rate of one out of every eight devices.

A warranty, it is argued, would allow for patients to have their defective hip implant products replaced at no cost to them as the manufacturer would be obligated to cover the expense of a repeated surgery. The warranty would also allow patients to have a clearer understanding of how long the hip replacement product is expected to last and of what the patient should do in the event that the device fails. The warranty could even encourage companies to improve the safety of their joint replacement products and make them more durable.

However, while a warranty would make it easier for patients to have a defective hip or knee joint replaced by ensuring the company paid, simply allowing for patients to make a warranty claim may not be a complete and comprehensive solution to the problems caused by defective hip and knee replacement devices.

A replacement joint is not like a refrigerator or an appliance. When the device fails, it can cause debilitating pain to the patient. The metal-on-metal hip replacement products have caused patients to develop serious health complications as the metal parts break down in the body, including metallosis and pseudo-tumors. The patients whose devices fail also cannot just return the product for a new one- they need to undergo a painful surgical procedure with a long recovery period.

A warranty simply providing for a replacement hip implant, therefore, does not go nearly far enough to compensate patients if their hip implant device fails. A victim who is harmed by a failed medical device can and should make a claim under product liability laws and get more than just a revision surgery. The victim should also receive compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress and other harm.

While a warranty could perhaps help to strengthen a plaintiff’s injury claim by showing that a manufacturer’s product has clearly failed to live up to its promises, ultimately the way to solve the problem of these defective medical devices is to ensure that manufacturers are held accountable in a court verdict or settlement for ALL of the harm and damages caused by their defective devices, including non-economic losses and costs suffered by victims.

If you are the victim of a defective medical device in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

More Blog Entries:
Oregon Implant Malpractice Case Heads to Court, Product Liability Lawyer Blog, September 14, 2013.