Deadline looms for patients with faulty hip implants

Aine Fitzgerald

Reporter:

Aine Fitzgerald

MANY of the 3,317 Irish patients who received a faulty DePuy hip implant are not aware that their right to claim compensation may expire on August 24 according to a Charleville-based solicitor.

MANY of the 3,317 Irish patients who received a faulty DePuy hip implant are not aware that their right to claim compensation may expire on August 24 according to a Charleville-based solicitor.

Recent figures have revealed that of the 3,317 patients in this country who received DePuy implants, 357 have had them replaced and another 166 have been pencilled in for revision.

But only upwards of 100 patients damaged by the scandal are understood to have filed claims against the international medical parts manufacturer.
With less than four weeks remaining before the August 24 cut-off point for filing claims, concerns have been raised that some patients may not be aware of the impending deadline and may miss out on an estimated €100,000 compensation package.

“Patients will know if their operation involved a DePuy product, as they will have received correspondence and will have been invited for follow up tests,” explained Declan Duggan of Declan Duggan & Co Solicitors in Charleville who is acting on behalf of affected patients and taking precautionary action to file claims to thereby “stop the clock”.

“To do so before August 24 2012,” he explained, “medical records have to be reviewed and a number of legal steps require to be taken. It is urgent that patients act now so as not to be deprived of their rights.”

According to Mr Duggan, people with problems will have received offers of free tests, doctors’ visits, corrective surgery, and associated costs.

However, he says no offers of compensation have been made for “the pain experienced before, during and after the repeat surgery or for the distress and uncertainty endured”.

In 2010, DePuy, an international medical device manufacturer, issued a recall on a number of its products.

These were parts of metal hips that had been implanted in 93,000 patients worldwide over the previous eight years during hip surgery.

As a result of an abnormally high failure rate, the company was forced to recall the products. For many patients this meant a second operation to remove the offending materials and implantation of new parts.

All patients with DePuy hips were informed and asked to attend for blood tests to monitor the levels of cobalt in their blood.

Abnormal increases in these levels indicate that the devices are ‘wearing away’.

“This results in small particles of the metals breaking away and causing problems in the region of the implants.

“The current known symptoms include pain, discomfort, infections,fractures, metal sensitivity and difficulty walking. However, the possible long term effects remain unknown,” explained Mr Duggan.

He said the majority of patients will be unaware that there is a two year time limit for filing legal claims to protect their rights.

“There are exceptions to the two year rule but for many the deadline will mean that their rights to claim compensation will have passed if they do not act immediately,” he added.

When contacted this week, the HSE could not confirm if there were surgeries performed at the Mid-Western Regional Orthopaedic Hospital in Croom using DePuy implants or if there were any corrective surgeries carried out at the hospital.