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Michael Monheit
Michael Monheit
Attorney • (215) 840-6573

Cobalt Poisoning Risks From Hip Implants

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Patients with ASR Hip Implants Suffer From Cobalt Poisoning
Hip implants are supposed to improve a patient’s health. DePuy Orthopaedics ASR hip implants however, have had the opposite effect for a number of patients. These implants have negatively impacted patients’ health, with many who have received the implants suffering from cobalt metallosis and chromium metallosis. Additionally, about one in eight patients have required revision surgeries to fix implants that failed within five years. As a result, DePuy, which is a division of Johnson & Johnson, has recalled two of its hip replacement systems, the ASR XL Acetabular System and DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System. The recall occurred after the sale of more than 93,000 units and more than two years of reports about early hip implant failure.

As mentioned above, the recalled implants can cause a serious condition known as metallosis. Metallosis occurs when the metal-on-metal movement of the hip implant causes friction and releases potentially dangerous levels of chromium and cobalt ions into the body. This condition can result in nerve damage and rashes. It can also require the need for corrective surgery. With that said, what options do patients suffering from a failed hip implant have to remedy their health problems?

DePuy’s defective hip implants have caused a great deal of damage for patients. But DePuy has offered patients a solution to their faulty implants, saying it intends to cover reasonable and customary costs of monitoring and treatment for services, including revision surgeries, associated with the recall of ASR. While that proposal may appear acceptable on the surface, a closer look reveals that the solution is not so simple. DePuy does not maintain a list of patients who received an ASR hip implant. Patients who think they might have received an ASR hip implant have to contact their surgeon or the hospital where the surgery occurred in order to make that determination. Further, DePuy’s offer to pay “reasonable and customary costs” is ambiguous. The exact costs that DePuy will cover remains unclear.

Patients who receive hip implants expect to see significant improvement in their health. But patients who received ASR hip implants not only failed to see an improvement in health, their health actually got worse. A second surgery and cobalt poisoning was not part of the bargain. Now it is up to those patients to pursue the appropriate compensation.