The defective hip implant that has been recalled by DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., is causing thousands of people to require a second hip operation, or revision, to correct the problems caused by the recalled device. Many people who have already undergone their revision surgery did so before the recall was issued. Others, whose symptoms were severe enough to require immediate revision after the announcement of the recall, were not informed of their legal rights and options before surgery.
I received a phone call in early November from a man whose wife was in a local hospital recovering from her second hip operation. Two days after the surgery I visited her in the hospital to discuss her situation, and she became a client. I asked her what happened to the implant (explant when removed), and she said the doctor had it.
I contacted the orthopaedic surgeon who had performed the operation and his office informed me that the explant was at the hospital. At the hospital I was passed around to several different people, finally speaking with someone in pathology. Typically when something is removed from a human body it goes to the pathology department for testing, so it seemed sensible that the explant could be there.
The pathology department claimed never to have received the explant for testing, cleaning or anything, and suggested I speak with someone in the orthopaedic surgery department, which I did. I was told by the person in the orthopaedic surgery department that she would find out what happened to the explant and get right back with me. I never heard back from her but was called by a person in RISK MANAGEMENT. I was asked why I was calling all over the hospital trying to find out about the explant. Ultimately, I was told that the explant had been disposed of with the rest of the medical waste. Our evidence had been destroyed. I was astonished, and told her so.
When questioned about whether the client had been given the option to keep the implant (which she had paid thousands of dollars to get in the first place) I was told that if a patient does not specifically ask for the device it is thrown out. There is no informing the patients of their rights, and no discussion of the current recall of which the doctors and hospitals are certainly aware.
While I was calling around trying to locate the explant I was also coming across new information about DePuy – namely, that representatives of the company were regularly present in hip operations. I was quite surprised about this and, again, called around to confirm whether a DePuy representative was present for this particular operation. It was even more difficult to get an answer to this question – until I received the hospital records.
There, in black and white, under the names of the doctors and nurses present, was a name and title: “DePuy Representative.” Knowing that a representative of the company that manufactured this defective device was there when the device was removed I find it hard to believe that the explant was just thrown out. Wouldn’t DePuy want to preserve this evidence? Was the device really disposed of, or is it now in the hands of the company? Nothing in the medical records states where the explant went after it was “handed off the table” by the surgeon.
This is only an example of one patient, one surgeon and one hospital, but of the thousands of people who have already undergone revision surgery, how many have had the same experience? If you or a loved one have received the DePuy ASR hip implant and require revision surgery, be aware of your right to obtain the explant. The evidence contained in the device could make a big difference in the outcome of your case. Our office is currently representing a number of persons who are going to have the hip implant replacement operation (revision). We are making arrangements with the surgeons and hospitals in these cases to have our representative present at the operation to obtain the explant. The device will then be packed in specially designed, iced packages and sent by Federal Express to an independent laboratory for analysis and storage.
If you need further information about explants and their preservation, please feel free to call me. Lawrence Egerton, (800)800-4529.