Our firm continues to investigate and evaluate the recalled Depuy ASR device. In fact, Childers, Schlueter & Smith, LLC has filed more DePuy ASR hip implant claims that any other firm in Georgia. To date, we have filed more than 160 DePuy ASR cases, all on an individual basis (No Class Actions-these cases are way to serious for that). In our representation we find that our clients are hungry for information regarding the DePuy ASR hip implant recall and the health affects associated with the recalled device. Unfortunately we are finding that many clients are unhappy in not being able to get answers to questions that they have from the surgeon in evaluating their need for monitoring or need for revision surgery. Hopefully, the patient has a good relationship with the surgeon who put in the now recalled device and this surgeon hopefully is providing good guidance in the decision as to whether the removal of the recalled item is warranted and whether he will render an unbiased opinion as to the failed device. Frequent questions that we are getting include:
1. Should I have the first surgeon do my revision surgery?
That is a decision for you to make, but it should be an informed decision. A surgeon who has been highly compensated by DePuy as a consultant, or who uses DePuy devices primarily, may be biased. That is certainly not always the case, and many physicians take their oath to the patient and practice of medicine as their primary concern very seriously. Familiarity and belief in a particular manufactured product that may be different than what another physician believes in is common. However, a doctor that works with a recalled manufacturer and does business with a representative weekly, can be concerning especially if that particular sales representative is a defendant in the underlying product liability litigation. You may have a longstanding relationship with your orthopedist that should optimally not be interrupted. On the other hand, a clearly biased, uncooperative doctor may seek to minimize your claim or not properly chart your condition that may be associated with the device.
2. Do I need to have a DePuy Replacement Part?
This is something that should be explored with your doctor. However, experts have told us that there are revision hip components on the market by other manufacturers that are believed to be compatible and in some cases can have lower revision rates. It is understandable to have lost trust in DePuy/Johnson & Johnson as well as other metal on metal implants. It is your hip and health. Choices should be explored with a non-DePuy surgeon in at least in getting a second opinion if you feel one is warranted or necessary.
3. How can I tell if my doctor is affiliated with DePuy or has a current financial interest?
DePuy lists its current consultants on its website alphabetically and lists the doctor’s state and town. The list only reports consultants in recent years. It is not an exhaustive list and does not list those whom DePuy made payments in the distant or very recent past. Check with one of the doctor’s competitors about his pedigree if you question it. We can also provide you great insight into this question as we now know every doctor in the State ofGeorgiathat put these devices in.
4. Who do you recommend that I see?
You, of course, should do your own homework, because it’s your health. We recommend that you find a competent and agreeable orthopedist to do a revision if it is deemed necessary. Whoever the doctor is, he should have, at the minimum:
- Sufficient experience in doing revision arthroplasties annually as distinguished from primary arthroplasties.
- Competence and experience with other manufacturers’ revision systems.
- Sensitivity to the unique difficulties of revision arthroplasties, i.e. they often are more painful to the patient, take longer to rehabilitate, and typically are more expensive to do.
- Awareness of and agreement to support you in preserving the device for claims against the device manufacturer in litigation if necessary.
- A Physician that has available to them a varied range of competitive medical device components and are not limited by their hospital privileges or individual relationship with a single vendor.
5. My doctor has sought to dissuade me from considering any kind of legal action; does that mean he is on DePuy’s side?
No. Typically a Doctor does not want to become involved in any kind of legal action on your behalf. An uncooperative orthopedist can be a problem however that can hurt the pursuit of your case even if he or she does not want to be involved. The best you can hope for is a compassionate physician that will give you a candid and truthful evaluation considering the known problems associated with the recalled device. Furthermore, most physicians are not aware that a persons statute of limitation will likely expire before many patients’ suffer the foreseeable harms and are putting the patient at risk of having no recourse against the manufacturer of the failed device when they fail to act or properly inform a patient of potential dangers in the future. A physician that delays to treat or minimizes the likely risks is doing a great disservice to the patient in our humble opinion. The following examples should make you consider and evaluate your continued use of your doctor:
a. “Your x-rays are perfectly normal; I don’t see anything to justify your complaints, performing a cobalt or chromium test is unnecessary.”
b. “You probably overdid it in the garden.”
c. “I have told you repeatedly to lose some weight.”
d. “There is nothing on your x-ray to indicate that the device failed; the company sent that notice because the FDA over-reacted, again.”
e. “I have been doing surgeries using the DePuy prosthesis since it came out and you are the one and only complainer in all that time.”
f. “Cobaltism , metal ions? What metal toxicity? There is no proof of that in the literature.”
g. “Revision surgery will be no problem; you’ll be up and about faster than last time.”
h. “You have to talk to the office manager about getting copies of your records; I don’t deal with paperwork.”
i. “If you want this to be quick and easy, you better sign those DePuy forms right away; they are just a formality.”
j. “DePuy people are the experts; I am going to give the old components to them to see if there was a problem.”
k. “You don’t need to get a lawyer involved. All that would do is create more headaches for everyone, including you and me.”
l. “I don’t use any products other than DePuy.”
6. My blood test showed elevated levels of chromium cobalt. What does that mean?
The newly coined disease called arthroprosthetic cobaltism was identified in DePuy ASR recipients with cobalt levels many times higher than the recognized toxic level of >5 micrograms per liter. Any of the following symptoms can be related to toxic cobalt exposure and should be closely followed by your doctors. Also be aware that cobalt levels of >7 micrograms is a marker for advanced metallosis which experts have linked to joint loosening. Symptoms that you may experience include:
- Ringing in ears ( Tinnitus)
- Vision problems
7. Should I sign the DePuy forms?
Absolutely not before speaking to a lawyer about your legal rights. The medical authorizations provide unfettered access to your medical history and the ability for the Manufacturer, by and through Broadspire, to speak to your physician without you being present. Additionally, the forms extend to grant access or control of explanted components. There are proper exceptions in the best interest of the client in order to assist in some financial benefit for costs that Depuy is capable of defraying uncovered expenses without losing or jeopardizing your legal rights and your right to bring a product liability claim.
8. What should I do if I need to undergo a revision and have my component removed?
This device belongs to you and NOT to DePuy or anyone else. The orthopedist, pathology department, and hospital risk manager must be put on notice that transferring custody of the components and tissue must be done pursuant to certain protocols in order to preserve evidence. The Hip Implant Attorneys at Childers Schlueter & Smith have designed and follow a very specific protocol that adequately protects and preserves your hip implant device as important evidence that will be needed in the weeks ahead. For more information on the DePuy ASR Hip Implant Protocol contact Childers, Schlueter & Smith now for a no obligation consultation.