Nearly a half-million Americans each year undergo hip replacement surgery, an invasive operation that requires weeks of rehabilitation. Typical hip implants can last 20 years or more before being replaced, but some have been shown to fail at a faster than expected rate. Thus, the Safe Patient Project, organized by Consumer Reports, is pushing for all hip implants to come with warranties.
“One, it tells people how long this implant’s going to last,” said Lisa McGiffert of the Safe Patient Project. “It gives them realistic expectations. And two, it gives them a clear process to follow if their implant should fail.”
Most hip replacements do not come with a warranty, however the Safe Patient Projects says manufacturers should provide 20-year warranties on their hip implants that would allow defective devices that fail sooner to be replaced for free.
A warranty would have helped protect the 93,000 patients worldwide who received the Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR hip replacement system. Traditional hip implants are made with ceramic or plastic parts, but the ASR was one of the few made with metal-on-metal parts. The designed turned out to be severely flawed. Thousands of people with the DePuy device experienced premature failure of their devices as well as a type of blood poisoning known as metallosis caused when the metal parts corroded inside the body.
Johnson & Johnson’s Depuy metal artificial hip isn’t the only metal-on-metal device to cause problems. Several all-metal devices from various manufacturers have caused problems for patients, resulting in thousands of lawsuits. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires the makers of these devices to collect data on people who have been harmed by these devices.