FDA to investigate faulty metal hip replacements

Defective medical devices and products can cause serious injury or death to hospital patients and consumers. Instead of working as they should to make the patient’s life easier, defective medical devices can put the patient in serious danger.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that has begun to investigate faulty metal hip replacement devices that have been flaking off tiny particles of cobalt and chromium coatings as they wear away in a patient’s body.

The FDA said it kicked off the investigation after receiving reports of the shedding metal hip replacements from doctors at some of the most well-known hospitals in the country, including the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

Doctors informed the FDA that many patients have been treated over the past year for the problem. They said that having to replace the medical devices due to the metal debris can be complex and can result in permanent damage to the patient.

According to the FDA, as many as 500,000 people in the country have these problematic “metal-on-metal” ball socket hip replacements, which normally last about 15 years in a patient before needing to be replaced.

The medical industry appears to have different opinions on the use of the metal hip replacement devices. Some argue that surgeons are not implanting the devices properly, while others say that the design of the implant is to blame, not just the metal coating.

The Journal of Arthroplasty went so far as to advise doctors to use the metal-on-metal hip replacement devices with “great caution, if at all.”

An orthopedic surgeon out of Los Angeles who was one of the forefathers of hip replacement surgeries called the problem a “sad travesty,” which he attributed as being “design-related” and “technique-related.”

As mentioned above, hundreds of thousands of Americans could be affected by this problem with metal hip replacement devices.

However, it is also possible these people could be compensated through personal injury lawsuits filed against the maker of the faulty medical devices, the hospitals where they were treated and the doctors who performed the implant surgeries.

Source: Products Finishing Magazine, “FDA Says Metal Hip Replacements Are Faulty,” Tim Pennington, Dec. 12, 2011