Advances in the field of medicine have improved the quality of life for many. For those who have surgery to implant a medical device, a high quality, long lasting product is not only expected, but promised.
According to the New York Times, the DePuy Orthopaedics division of Johnson & Johnson is involved with the settlement of a massive lawsuit, surrounding a recall of their artificial hip. The article indicates that an estimated 93,000 patients have been implanted with the device, called the Articular Surface Replacement. While artificial hips are traditionally made of a combination of metal and plastic, and are anticipated to last at least 15 years before requiring replacement of the device, the DePuy device differs, in a way that has led to legal liability.
The DePuy artificial device is made of only metal, as opposed to the traditional metal and plastic combination. For this reason, the device causes the shedding of metallic debris over time. The debris has caused numerous patients with the device to experience severe pain and debilitating injuries. The device has since been recalled. According to the New York Times, an internal document from 2011 indicated that “the device would fail within five years in 40 percent of the patients who received it.” Before the document was made available, many patients complained repeatedly to their doctors, insisting that there was a problem with the device, but Johnson & Johnson repeatedly denied any issue.
The New York Times indicates that about 8,000 patients have needed to have their DePuy artificial hips removed and replaced with another device. Johnson & Johnson has entered into a deal to pay $2.5 billion to compensate those patients for their injuries, and pain and suffering. Additional expenses will likely be required to pay for the medical costs of the replacement procedures, raising the cost to an estimated $3 billion. In order for the settlement to move forward, by law, 94 percent of the eligible claimants in the lawsuit must agree to settle. However many factors could lead to the settlement being rejected. Specifically, the settlement plan would likely result in nearly one-third of the payment to be allocated for legal fees. Additionally, payouts to the claimants would likely vary based on how long the person had the defective implant in place. Some claimants would likely determine that they would like to seek higher compensation by pursuing an individual lawsuit.
The DePuy website indicates that a voluntary recall of the device was issued in 2010. The website indicates that many patients with the device experienced problems and needed a second, “revision” surgery. It indicates that the company “is working with patients and their health insurers to address medical costs directly associated with the recall,” and “will also address recall-related patient out-of-pocket expenses, such as co-pays, deductible expenses, lost wages and travel costs.” The site also provides a useful link to the United States Food and Drug Administration website, which discusses important information for people who have received a metal-on-metal hip replacement device, including symptoms of device failure, risks of revision surgery, and how to discuss the recall with your doctor or surgeon.
While the company provides information about the recall, it is important to contact an experienced attorney who has your well-being and best interests in mind. North Carolina has specific laws relating to the time requirements for filing a lawsuit. If you have received a faulty medical device, or a device that has been recalled, contact an attorney today to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.