There is a nationwide problem with metal on metal hip replacements, and patients may need to be tested for higher cobalt or chromium levels in their blood, the best indicator that their hip replacement is failing according to recent sources. Our Atlanta product liability lawyers will be interested to see how the cases across the country progress, particularly the case in Georgia’s Federal Northern District Court.
The pending Georgia case, Wright Medical Technology, Inc., Conserve Hip Implant Products Liability Litigation, is being handled by Judge William Duffy. It is in the discovery phase, and in September the judge ruled that plaintiffs have access to documents citing complications with a particular product, the Wright Profemur hip neck stem. Plaintiffs had argued that this neck stem was an integral part of the design flaw of the hip replacement. Judge Duffy’s discovery order stated, “The Court finds that information regarding the Profemur neck is relevant to the claims in this action and reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” It also said that the plaintiffs should get information and documents about the neck’s design and function and any notice or investigation by the manufacturer of any defects, like corrosion, fretting, or failure.
There are also cases going through the federal courts of several other states, including Texas, Ohio, California, and New Jersey. The defendants are most of the major medical device manufacturers in the United States. Aside from Wright, they include DePuy, Stryker, Biomet, and Zimmer. It is not only an American problem either. Some European health agencies have done studies suggesting that some of these devices have a failure rate of almost 50 percent in some circumstances. The British Hip Society and British Orthopaedic Association issued a joint statement on the matter. And the US Food and Drug Administration has looked into the issue, as well.