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Lawmakers Look to New Legislation to Curb Instances Like DePuy Hip Implant Recall

In the wake of such medical product failures as the DePuy ASR hip implant, medical doctors are uniting to create the American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR). Developed by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the AJRR will help doctors monitor artificial joints throughout a patient’s lifetime and will document the names of the surgeon and the facility where the artificial joint procedure took place. Other data would also be included.

Advocates of the AJRR point to the sheer amount of unnecessary medical costs attributed to medical manufacturer defects in the United States. In 2006, of the nearly 1 million hip and knee replacement procedures conducted throughout the U.S., 7.5% were revision surgeries, those operations performed to remedy injuries caused by an artificial joint defect. The price tag on revision surgeries amounted to more than 3.2 billion dollars in 2006. In an attempt to abate these staggering figures, the AJRR would be adopted in order to prevent revision-related costs, with some analysts estimating $65 million a year in savings. In Canada, Great Britain, Australia and Sweden, countries that have already implemented their own Joint Replacement Registry, incidents of revision surgeries there have already decreased 10%. The same rate of reduction could be expected to occur in the U.S. as well.

Besides reducing medical costs, a primary function of the AJRR would be to aid in the identification of poorly performing medical devices. By documenting the longevity of the device, as well as the fail rate amongst a diverse population of participants, the AJRR would help doctors and patients prevent serious injuries to artificial joint recipients. Furthermore, it would create a uniform reporting standard for each state on a non-profit basis. Currently, local and regional databases exist, but they are unable to provide maximum benefit due to inconsistent reporting techniques and burdensome maintenance fees.

As medical device manufacturers increasingly fail to maintain suitable quality standards for their products, artificial joint databases such as the AJRR will continue to grow in importance. For example, in August 2010, DePuy, along with parent company Johnson & Johnson, announced the recall of nearly 100,000 ASR hip implant units. The implants are prone to short lifespans and have resulted in thousands of patients experiencing life altering injuries, including metallosis and disfigurement. Because the recall was publicized only a few months ago, a comprehensive estimate of the bodily and monetary toll is not yet ascertainable, although it is likely to be substantial. Some documents have suggested DePuy was aware of the likely failure rate of its hip implants for years while it continued to market them to the public.
If you are concerned with the alarming defects present in DePuy’s hip implants or any other medical device, please contact The Berniard Law firm for a free consultation. Lawyers are available to explain what impact the DePuy hip implant recall may have on you or a loved one. They can also look into any other potential legal issues involving alleged medical devices manufactured by other companies as well.