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Younger Patients Opt for Joint Replacement Surgery, Increased Numbers Affected by Defective Implants Manufactured by DePuy

In January 2011 the Washington Post reported on the recent trend of younger patients opting for joint replacement surgery. In 2008, of the 277,000 hip replacements performed in the United States, 27 percent were conducted on patients ages 45 to 64. That represents an increase of 78 percent for that age group.
One orthopaedic surgeon believes the trend stems from younger peoples’ proactive approach to pain and aging. “Younger people are less willing to accept physical disability than older generations,” Dr. Mary O’Connor, president of the American Association of Knee and Hip Surgeons, said. “[Younger people] don’t want to hear that they should use a cane or they can’t walk or play golf…”

But with increased joint replacement surgeries comes increased risk. Because most replacement joints are expected to last 15 to 20 years, many younger patients will outlive their artificial knees and hips. And when the usefulness of those joints diminishes, a second surgery, known as a revision, is necessary to replace the failing artificial joint with a new one. Revision surgery carries with it increased complications. “If you need a [revision surgery], that surgery is a little more difficult,” Dr. Mary O’Connor explained. Usually when [the implant] fails, it fails because one of the parts loosens…every time you have to revise it, there’s a higher risk of complications.”

The perils of revision surgery were reported firsthand when this blog posted the story of Eugene O’Neal, a relatively younger client of the Berniard Law Firm, and a recipient of a defective DePuy ASR hip implant. On the eve of his revision surgery to extract and replace his failed DePuy ASR hip implant with a functional unit, Eugene shared with readers his fears regarding the revision operation. Denied the usual 15 to 20 years of expected durability, Eugene’s hip lasted only a couple of years before it began to fail as a result of a design flaw in the DePuy manufacturing system. Had Eugene known his DePuy ASR hip implant was going to fail so soon, it is doubtful he and the thousands like him would have opted for hip replacement surgery to begin with.

Because there has been such an increase of younger patients receiving joint implants in the last decade, it is likely that an increased number of younger patients have been adversely affected by the defective Depuy ASR hip implant units and subsequent recall. For these younger patients, DePuy’s suspect manufacturing processes are especially troubling because such patients are often still working jobs and remain active in extracurricular sporting activities. A failure of the DePuy hip implant for these younger patients translates into an entire lifestyle change, since work and sporting activities have to be replaced with necessary revision surgery and physical rehabilitation.

As the Washington Post article shows, DePuy’s nationwide recall affects patients of all ages. If you would like a free consultation regarding your legal right to recover against DePuy, please contact Berniard Law Firm today.