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Metal hip replacements cause spike in complaints

According to recent reports, many hip replacement devices may be dangerous products. Although, many medical products are subjected to rigorous safety standards and extensive testing before they can be used on patients, it appears that many hip replacement patients received substandard replacements that were not adequately tested.

Recently, The New York Times analyzed reports about defective all-metal hip replacements that were made to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the paper found a very sharp increase in reported defects this year. According to the analysis, the FDA received more than 5,000 reports about defects in metal-on-metal hips since January of this year. That figure represents more complaints about the hip replacements than the amount the FDA received in the previous four years combined.

About 250,000 Americans receive a hip replacement every year. In recent years, as many as 33 percent of hip replacements involved all-metal replacements.

However, these all-metal replacements, which involve a metal ball and cup, may be shedding tiny particles of cobalt and chromium into patients' bodies. These tiny particles can cause tissue damage in patients, and many patients have needed to have surgery to replace their artificial joints after a few years, even though hip replacements are intended to last much longer.

Now that the dangers of these all-metal hip replacements are becoming better understood, many surgeons are refusing to expose their patients to these products and are electing to use safer devices, which combine metal and plastic parts.

Unfortunately, as many as 500,000 patients have received all-metal hip replacements. For these patients, suffering a medical injury due to these products is a very real possibility. Thankfully, patients who are injured because of a defective hip implant have legal rights. Patients who have been hurt because of a defective replacement hip or any other type of medical device are legally entitled to seek compensation for their injuries.

Source: The New York Times, "Hip Implant Complaints Surge, Even as the Dangers Are Studied," Barry Meier and Janet Roberts, Aug. 22, 2011

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