Archive for February 2012

BBC´s Newsnight Makes Faulty Hip Replacement Claims

A BBC Newsnight report, prepared in conjunction with the British Medical Journal (BMJ), has made faulty hip replacement claims against the manufacturers of metal-on-metal hip replacement systems and accused the Department of Health of failing in its duty of care to almost 50,000 hip implant patients.

The program, which was aired last night on the BBC, claimed that problems with metal-on-metal hip implants had been known for many years, but no action had been taken to inform orthopaedic surgeons or patients, or to stop the use of faulty hip replacement systems in the UK. The report claimed that all “large head” (≥36mm) metal-on-metal hip replacement systems had a high failure rate due to friction between the ball and cup causing metallic ions to enter the blood stream and cause tissue necrosis and other complications.

Evidence of the claims was produced using the DePuy Pinnacle hip replacement system as an example, which was introduced into the country without any clinical tests, and that was producing test results as early as 2008 which indicated up to fifty times the normal level of chromium in the blood streams of patients having to undergo revision surgery. It was reported on the program that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Tuesday around 49,000 patients in the UK were in a high-risk category due to potential system toxicity.

The MHRA – the Department of Health agency responsible for ensuring that medical devices work and are acceptably safe – was also attacked on the program for allowing the faulty hip replacements to be introduced into the UK without any clinical testing, and for accepting the recommendations of a benefit/risk assessment panel established in 2008 which included consultants and a director of product development from the faulty hip replacement manufacturing companies.

In response to the faulty hip replacement claims, Professor Sir Kent Woods – MHRA´s Chief Executive Office – said that there were fundamental differences between the way the drugs and medical devices were introduced into the healthcare market, and his agency would continue to work with the British Hip Society and British Orthopaedic Society to analyse the rate of wear of metal-on-metal hip implants according to the data collected on the National Joint Registry.

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Compensation for the Failure to Treat a Perforated Bowel Approved at Court

The family of a man who died in hospital of septic shock has settled its claim for compensation for the failure to treat a perforated bowel.

On the morning of 24th April 2008, Barry Murphy (38) from Carrigaline in County Cork was admitted to the South Infirmary–Victoria University Hospital in Cork after complaining of abdominal pains. At the time Barry was suffering from a mild form of Crohn´s Disease, but the condition was being successfully managed and Barry had a full-time job as a financial controller.

After an examination, Barry was diagnosed with a perforated bowel. However, due to “an unjustifiable delay”, surgery was not performed on until much later in the evening. By the time he underwent surgery, Barry´s condition had deteriorated due to septic shock and he was pronounced dead at 11.15pm that evening.

Barry´s distraught widow – Mary – made a claim for compensation for the failure to treat a perforated bowel against the South Infirmary–Victoria University Hospital and Health Service Executive (HSE). For three years liability for Barry´s wrongful death was denied, with the hospital arguing that Barry had received an acceptable level of care.

Mary was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after suffering a nervous shock following Barry´s death; but she persevered with her claim for compensation for the failure to treat a perforated bowel and, in 2011, the HSE admitted that “the level of care provided fell short of an acceptable standard”.

A €500,000 settlement of compensation for the failure to treat a perforated bowel was negotiated and – at the Dublin High Court – Mr Justice John Quirke approved the settlement. Judge Quirke also expressed his sympathy to Mary and her two daughters, commenting that Barry´s death had been “unthinkable” and was “a tragic loss”, adding that he wished he could do more to help the family.

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Toxicity Fears Could Cause Increase in MoM Hip Implant Compensation Claims

A rise in the number of patients registering a high level of chromium and cobalt in their blood, due to microscopic particles being dispersed by metal on metal (MoM) hip implants, has lead experts to believe that there could be a sharp increase in the number of MoM hip implant compensation claims.

Advisors to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have recommended that new guidance be issued to all recipients of MoM hip implants, due to fears that many people who had the recalled DePuy metal on metal hip replacement systems implanted have not yet followed the advice issued in April 2010 to have an annual x-ray and blood test.

There are over 40,000 people in the UK who have had some form of metal on metal hip replacement system implanted in the past twenty years – 10,000 of whom received the recalled DePuy ASR hip replacement systems. Prior to the worldwide recall of the faulty hip systems in August 2010, the MHRA was already advocating that all recipients of metal on metal have annual checks for chromium and cobalt for a period of five years – more if required.

However the President of the British Orthopaedic Association – Professor Joe Dias – has claimed that only 41 per cent of patients known to have received a faulty DePuy MoM hip replacement system have had the results of their check-ups entered on the central register. Although he acknowledges that many may have undergone the annual checks without their results being communicated, he has concerns that many more may not have been contacted due to their original orthopaedic surgeons retiring and no follow-ups ever being made.

According to Stephen Cannon, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, not only can the microscopic particles be responsible for organ failures and neurological illnesses, but they cause tissue necrosis – making revision surgery that much more complicated and reducing the chances of success. Consequently, not only is the number of MoM hip implant compensation claims anticipated to increase, but also their value, due to reconstructive work having to be carried out before hip surgery can commence and the longer recovery periods that will be experienced by patients.

Also though not strictly attributable to medical negligence, claims for MoM hip replacement compensation should be directed towards specialist UK medical negligence solicitors who understand the emotional worries associated with this type of medical procedure.

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