Undergoing hip replacement surgery should result in a new lease of life but, sadly, for some people it can make a bad situation worse.
It is now known that some types of prosthesis that have previously been used in hip replacement surgery are defective. They are known to cause a number of difficulties to patients, or they may need replacing earlier than you would otherwise expect.
However, not all issues arising after hip replacement surgery are caused by the prosthesis itself. There are often other reasons why people suffer mobility problems and pain.
In some cases it is because the surgeon implanted the prosthesis incorrectly. This usually means that the surgery has to be revised or the prosthesis replaced entirely.
We also deal with a number of hip replacement surgery claims where patients have developed an infection after surgery and that infection is either left undiagnosed for a long period of time, or is inappropriately managed once it has been diagnosed. In each scenario the period of recovery is prolonged, sometimes for up to several years.
Where there is infection it can often result in irreparable damage to the hip joint itself. Once this has happened, further hip replacement surgery is either not possible or has a worse outcome. This can include long-term complications such as differential leg length and patients becoming dependent on walking aids.
If you are concerned about the hip replacement surgery you underwent or the treatment you received afterwards, please contact us on 0117 239 8012 for a free no-obligation discussion, or email using the online enquiry form.
Frequently asked questions!
Can I claim compensation for a failed hip replacement?
It may seem strange to think of a hip replacement as a ‘product’, used by you as a ‘consumer’, like a washing machine or car, but that’s what it is for legal purposes. The same laws which protect you as a consumer if you suffer injury due to a faulty product, such as a washing machine catching fire for example, apply to hip replacements.
Signs that your hip replacement may be failing include pain during movement or walking, swelling near hip or groin area, lumps near the affected hip, dislocation or a feeling that the joint has “slipped” and squeaking or popping noises during movement. In extreme cases the implant may snap, breaking apart completely, with obvious and immediate consequences.
There are different types of hip replacements. In the UK, approximately 70,000 hip replacements are performed each year. In a total hip replacement operation an artificial ball is attached to the top of the leg bone and an artificial socket to the hip bone. The socket can be made out of plastic or ceramic, while the ball is metal. The ball is attached to a shaft, which is placed in the hollow of the leg bone (femur).
Some people do not need a total hip replacement, but have a hip resurfacing operation (known as metal-on-metal or MoM). This has the advantage of removing less of the person’s own bone. The joint surfaces are replaced with metal inserts that cover the surfaces of the hip but do not extend down the inside or hollow of the leg bone. The metal mixtures used in hip replacements contain the metals chromium and cobalt.
In particular problems have arisen with the MoM devices. This is because, as the hip replacements wear down, metal particles can be released from the artificial hip, react with the soft tissue (such as muscle and ligaments) surrounding the joint and enter the bloodstream. A number of specific products have already been identified as problematic, for example in 2010, the UK regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a product recall for DePuy ASR, a brand of MoM artificial hip. This meant that surgeons were told not to implant DePuy ASR hip replacements and return any unused implants to the manufacturer.
Large compensation payments have already been made to those who have suffered as a result of failed hip replacements, and steps have been taken to modify the implants to stop the problems, but your hip replacement may have been carried out before a problem was known about, or have only just come to light.
If you have had a hip replacement, and are concerned there is a problem, you should immediately contact your orthopaedic surgeon or GP. They should provide you with your records, confirming that type of hip replacement you had, and discuss with you the appropriate follow-up, if any, that is required.
If you have had a hip replacement, and are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, or feel the implant is failing for any other reason, you should seek medical advice immediately. Once you have done that, request details of the type of hip replacement you had, and in particular the name of the manufacturer.
If you want to pursue a claim for compensation, we will also need to know all relevant dates, including the date of the original hip replacement surgery, and the date you first started experiencing symptoms. You have three years to bring a claim for injury compensation, but this can run from the ‘date of knowledge’ so when you first knew of a problem with the hip, and other deadlines can apply in product liability cases.
If you or someone you know has had, or is having, problems after a hip replacement, and you would like some further advice from an expert, then please contact us today on 0117 239 8012.