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Can I Sue if I Receive a Faulty Knee Replacement?

Jun 12, 2019 | Personal Injury


Knee replacement surgery is one of the most common bone surgeries in the United States, as doctors perform more than 600,000 of these operations a year.

A new knee can greatly enhance the quality of life for those who may need one. They may be in a situation where they are living in constant pain, despite medication and physical therapy. Many cannot perform the simple task of getting up from a chair without feeling pain. After surgery and a rehabilitation period, new knee patients should be able to move around pain-free.

The average lifespan of an artificial knee is around 20 years, but that number has fallen recently, and many knee replacements are failing in as little as two years.

The short answer to the question posed in the title – can you file a lawsuit over a faulty knee replacement – is yes.

Over the years, numerous knee replacement recalls have taken place. Two companies, DePuy Synthes (49 percent) and Zimmer Biomet (36 percent), have accounted for the majority of recalls since 2003.

One popular replacement knee product, the Attune knee replacement system by DePuy Synthes (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), is currently seeing an issue where a recent update to the product has led to the artificial knee detaching from the body earlier than it should due to a failing adhesive the surgeon uses to hold the implant to the tibia bone.

What Does it Feel Like if an Artificial Knee is Failing?

If you are feeling good after successfully completing your rehab post-surgery, these sudden symptoms are a sign that you may have a problem with your knee replacement:

  • Unstable walking or standing
  • A general increase in pain
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Bone loss
  • Infection
  • Lost range of motion in the knee
  • Numbness
  • Higher temperature/hot feeling around the knee

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, contact the office that performed the surgery. However, X-rays may not detect a possible failure of the artificial knee, so a second surgery is often required in these cases.

A second surgery, especially if a new knee replacement is necessary, can be extremely difficult because the person’s bone tends to grow around the artificial knee that’s been in place. This can lead to bone loss and muscle damage, some of which may be irreversible.

In rare cases, failure of the adhesive has caused a serious condition known as Bone Cement Implantation Syndrome (BCIS). This condition can be triggered by joint failure and can lead to obstructed blood vessels, stroke, or heart attack.

Experts believe that the failure in these products is partially due to a lack of government oversight. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must approve any products introduced by these manufacturers, but critics say the FDA approval process does not go far enough to keep unsafe products off the market. For example, companies can pass the FDA Premarket Notification process by showing that their device is “substantially equivalent” to similar products, but it does not have to pass more stringent tests.

This opens manufacturers up for medical malpractice lawsuits, especially if the artificial knee failure occurs within a few years of the surgery.

If you or a loved one experience pain or complications from a knee replacement gone wrong, you are likely entitled to compensation for any potential subsequent surgeries, along with pain and suffering.

The attorneys at Stewart & Stewart are some of the most experienced in the state of Indiana at handling medical malpractice cases. We would be honored to help you get what you deserve for having to suffer from the negligence of a manufacturer. Please call us at 1-800-33-33-LAW or visit our website today for a no-risk consultation.

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