Articles Posted in Stryker Hip Implants

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Stryker hip replacement lawsuits are being settled in massive numbers, but more are being filed. Seven new plaintiffs have filed hip replacement lawsuits in New Jersey state court claiming injury from a defective Rejuvenate metal hip replacement system, which was recalled in July.
The plaintiffs live in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida but filed their lawsuits in New Jersey. Because Stryker is in New Jersey, there is no diversity jurisdiction which is why these plaintiffs are traveling to get to New Jersey. This practice drives Stryker crazy and I can’t entirely say that I blame them. But if you meet the right criteria, these are good cases and most of them will reach a reasonable settlement.

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It is easy to forget what a rarity hip replacement surgery used to be. Today, people with artificial hips are ubiquitous. Direct costs of hip and knee replacements exceed $35 billion in the United States. More than 285,000 hip replacements are performed annually in the United States and it is projected that total joint replacement will increase to 4 million patients annually due to the aging population. Until very recently, hip replacements have been applauded as a wonderful, revolutionary way to get people back on their feet with less or no pain. But with this revolution came medical device makers looking to make as much money, and get as much market share, as possible.

The temptations for hip makers was extraordinary. Hip replacement surgery may be recommended in cases where hip pain limits daily activities, continues while resting (night or day), limits the ability to move or lift the leg, or in cases where pain relief is not provided by physical therapy, walking supports or anti-inflammatory drugs. Hip replacement surgery has a high rate of success, due to improvements in surgical techniques and technology. Total hip arthroplasty (total hip replacement) involves removing the damaged bone and cartilage and replacing it with prosthetic components. These components did not come cheaply but health insurance companies readily admitted that this was the appropriate treatment for people with compromised hips.

Though many hip replacement surgeries are successful, there is risk for infection, failure, and other adverse effects. Concerns have been raised in peer reviewed publications relating to metallosis, the build up of metal debris in soft tissues or blood. Reports are generally restricted to metal-on-metal devices, or those constructed with acetabular polyethylene liner. Metal-on-metal devices often contain cobalt or chromium. Although the occurrence is rare (occurring in approximately 5.3% patients), it is a serious complication associated with these devices. Metallic debris can occur due to malpositioning of the implant, subluxation, or jamming of the femoral head.

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Stryker’s CEO Stephen MacMillan was on Squawk Box this morning talking about the President’s speech and Stryker’s recent boost in profitability. He looked like a nice guy, he really did. I was on the treadmill so I did not get what prompted the joke but in response to something Joe Kernen said, MacMillan said that next time he would bring with him a really good hip replacement (or words to that effect).
The comment underscored to me how in the world of big business, litigation is just one piece of a very large puzzle. I would think MacMillan would be a little more sensitive about the fact that just a few years ago they had to recall Stryker hip implants to the point where he wouldn’t have thought it a joke. But Stryker has settled most of those cases and clearly moved past it.
I don’t know what my point is, really. I’m not even saying the joke was inappropriate. The whole thing just struck me as odd.

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In July, 2012, Stryker recalled its Rejuvenate and ABGII hip replacement systems.  The recall, which was late in coming, was because the Stryker hips have been demonstrated  to be vulnerable to corrosion and fretting, joint dislocation, and, because they are metal-on-metal implant, they release of metal into the body that can cause a whole host of problems.

This recall is for 30,000 of the Stryker hip systems.  As you can expect when a company says, “Oops, this product is messed up”, lawsuits have followed in massive numbers.

Stryker sold these implants hard.  And people were buying.  Like crazy. The ability to go in and surgically replace or reinforce deteriorating body parts almost seems like science fiction.  Who wouldn’t want a chance at a second lease on life with a new hip that is hoped to work almost like a new one?