People suffering from the consequences of the recalled DePuy hip replacement system in Ireland had their plight highlighted on last night´s RTE current affairs and news report program, Prime Time.
The 20 minute feature about the DePuy hip recall on RTE Prime Time focused on the reasons behind the systems´ recall, how the failure of the DePuy hip replacements systems has affected innocent peoples´ lives and why so many questions about the DePuy hip replacement system recall in Ireland have remained unanswered.
The Background to the Story
DePuy Orthopaedics Inc – an American subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson – recalled their ASR XL Acetabular Hip Replacement System and the ASR Articular Surface Hip Replacement System in August 2010 following worldwide reports of a “higher than expected” failure rate. Expected to last for more than fifteen years, the DePuy hip replacement systems were failing after much shorter periods; resulting in patients experiencing hip fractures, the misalignment of joints, inflammation and the risk of infection from high levels of chromium and cobalt released into the bloodstream.
The DePuy Recall in Ireland
Affecting more than 3,000 Irish patients since 2003, DePuy Orthopaedics came to an arrangement with the Health Service Executive to cover the costs of monitoring patients who had a DePuy hip replacement system implanted in Ireland and revision surgery where necessary. Doctors and hospitals who had performed orthopaedic surgery in the previous seven years, started a program of x-rays and blood tests to identify which patients had a faulty implant and made arrangements for the revision surgery to take place. While DePuy offered to cover an individual´s expenses relating to travel, accommodation prior to an operation, child care costs if necessary and time off work for check-ups and surgery where required, no mention was made of compensation for the pain and suffering experienced by those found to be suffering from DePuy´s faulty products.
The DePuy Victims´ Tales
The report on the DePuy hip recall on RTE Prime Time focused on a number of cases – perhaps none more poignant than that of Antoinette Power from County Cork, who is now on her third hip replacement after the first DePuy ASR Articular Surface Hip Replacement System implanted in 2006 caused such damage to her pelvic region that the second (non-DePuy) hip replacement also failed.
John Hand from County Kildare described how his DePuy hip replacement had become misaligned and, while he is waiting for revision surgery, there is a click from his hip with every step he takes. He is concerned that with every click a little piece of the faulty DePuy hip replacement system is breaking away and entering his bloodstream – potentially affecting his liver, kidneys, brain and heart.
The story of Walter Hartrey from County Waterford highlighted the disruption to people´s lives by the DePuy hip replacement recall in Ireland. Mr Hartrey has two DePuy hip replacements and needs to have both replaced. He will be unable to work for up to a year while recovering from his surgery and speaking from experience he said “It takes a good while to get back onto your feet”.
Tommy Cussen from County Meath and Stewart Gray from County Waterford were two patients who had been given the all clear from the x-rays taken by their doctors, only to find out that extremely high levels of chromium and cobalt were present in their blood tests. “I have a poisonous level of cobalt in my body” said Mr Gray, “and what these toxins are doing to my liver and other organs in my body? I just do not know”.
The Lack of Straightforward Answers to Questions about the DePuy Hip Recall
Mr Gray´s question was just one of many which victims of DePuy´s failed hip replacement systems cannot get straight answers to. In the RTE Prime Time studio, Cathriona Molloy – representing the organisation Patient Focus – commented that the biggest fear facing the thousands of DePuy patients still being monitored was that they knew that their DePuy hip replacements were going to fail, but did not know how long they would have to wait for revision surgery. Ms Molloy stated that there was a lack of information and that people felt that they were getting “fobbed off”.
Studio presenter, Miriam O´Callaghan, also failed to get straightforward answers from HSE representative Bill Curtain, who claimed it was impractical to make direct comparisons to the UK – where the DePuy hip replacement system failure rate is approaching thirty per cent – in relation to how Ireland is tackling the problem concerning the lack of information being provided to the victims of DePuy´s hip replacement recall. His comments on the failure rate in Ireland were contradicted during the documentary by Chief Executive of the Irish Medicines Board, Pat O´Mahony who acknowledged that there was a grave problem.
Mr Curtain – who is himself an orthopaedic surgeon – also circumnavigated the issue of whether high levels of cobalt and chromium in the blood could cause any permanent damage to other organs and failed to provide a satisfactory answer when asked why Irish surgeons continued to use the DePuy hip replacement systems for patients in Ireland, once research in Australia had shown that there was a higher than expected failure rate in 2009 and a “Field Safety Notice” had been issued by DePuy Orthopaedics in March 2010.
DePuy Hip Replacement Compensation
The report on the DePuy hip recall on RTE Prime Time also brought to viewers´ attention the lawsuits currently going through the courts in America where victims of the faulty DePuy hip replacement systems were suing the company for personal injury due to product liability (you can read the latest news on the DePuy litigation cases >> here <<).
Several Irish DePuy recall solicitors were interviewed for the program, and they seemed to be able to provide better answers about the issues that people faced than the surgeons themselves. One such Irish DePuy recall solicitor claimed that many victims of the DePuy hip replacement systems in Ireland were engaging solicitors at this time to establish that they were entitled to claim DePuy hip replacement compensation.
If you, or somebody close to you, has had any metal-on-metal hip replacement implant within the past eight years, it is in your best interests to discuss your entitlement to DePuy hip replacement compensation with a personal injury solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.