Do you have a faulty joint replacement?

How does a patient know if they have a faulty joint replacement?

In this article we discuss a number of factors which may indicate that a metal on metal joint replacement may be faulty.

As always, the following isn’t legal advice and we won’t be able to tell you if you have a faulty joint leading to a claim unless we have had a look at your medical records and particular situation.

Symptoms

If a patient has suffered from any number of the symptoms in this list, then those symptoms be a good indication that a person may have received a faulty metal on metal joint replacement.

Warnings or recall notices

If a patient has received a warning or recall information from the manufacturer of their joint or any other entity about the joint replacement, this can indicate that the joint is not fit for the purpose for which it was supplied.

In Australia the Therapeutic Goods Administration publishes important information about joint replacements.

If the joint has been the cause of a lot of problems, then there is a chance that it may have been recalled from the market.

Information about product recalls can be found on the TGA website: https://www.tga.gov.au/recall-actions.

Under certain circumstances, manufacturers are required to write to doctors, and sometimes patients, letting them know that the manufacturer’s joint replacement or medical device may cause complications and telling the patient to be wary of the issues that they may suffer from by having the joint or medical device in their body.

So, if a doctor or the joint manufacturer has told a patient that a particular joint replacement has been noted on the national joint replacement registry to have a higher failure rate than other joint replacements, then a claim may exist.

Even if a patient hasn’t been told by the manufacturer or a doctor that the joint replacement causes issues, then the patient can take a look at the Therapetic Goods Administration recall database, as well as the National Joint Replacement Registry, to find out if their replacement has a high rate of recall. If it does, then this may indicate that a claim may exist.

 

Has the patient been advised to have the joint replaced?

If a doctor has advised a patient to have the joint replaced, this will not necessarily mean that the joint is faulty, but it can be an indication that the joint is not fit for purpose.

It can be a good idea to ask the doctor why the revision surgery is needed.

The doctor may explain that revision surgery is needed because cobalt and chromium levels are raised and the revision surgery is required to reduce those levels.

If the doctor explains the situation in that way, then there is a chance that the revision is necessary because of a faulty joint.

After the surgery, a patient may wish to ask their doctor whether there was any staining of the hip joint, any local metal toxicity, or any brown staining of tissue around the joint, which may indicate that metal has leached into the patient’s body. All of these symptoms can be regarded as signs that the joint was not fit for purpose.

 

Remember:

Patients are well within their rights to talk to their orthopaedic surgeon and ask them questions about any joint or replacement surgery, and whether the surgeon thinks that the joint is faulty – if the surgeon forms a conclusion that the joint is indeed faulty, then that opinion can be useful evidence to prove a claim.