A leading medical manufacturer has become the focus of an official government inquiry and a class action after it was found that over 5,500 patients may have been supplied with faulty prosthetic fittings.
The senate committee formed to investigate the consumer experience claims that recipients of DePuy metal-on-metal hip replacement had lodged a number of complaints against the company and its Australian distributor.
It found that a large number of the patients who had these devices surgically implanted required an inordinate amount of follow-up care.
In the final report, the senate committee stated: “Many of the consumers who received the DePuy metal on metal hip devices subsequently needed one or more revision surgeries.
“They also reported serious and systemic health problems extending beyond initial complications with the device.”
Members of the committee said in the report that they were “shocked by the intolerable, and unacceptable, experiences of patients” who had received the DePuy hip replacement prosthetic.
Subsequently the call has gone out to alert doctors, surgeons, patients, practitioners and medical suppliers of the complications associated with the particular device.
Some of the problems reported with the hip replacement piece related to metal contaminants leeching into the patients’ blood stream – including levels of toxic materials such as cobalt and chromium.
Patients who believe they may have received one or more of these faulty implants are advised by the committee to speak to their preferred medical practitioner for further advice.
Victims who have experienced painful complications resulting from their surgery have the option of speaking to a firm of medical negligence lawyers to explore their legal options for compensation.
The committee’s report also provided a list of 18 recommendations for the handling of these kinds of cases, as well as the review procedures put in place and maintained by four organisations – the Department of Health and Ageing, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, the National Joint Replacement Registry and the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
It asked for a review of complaint handling procedures, as well as an overhaul of the systems used to alert practitioners and patients of “adverse outcomes”.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon added his own comments to the end of the report, acknowledging the assistance provided to the committee by victims.
Xenophon also stated: “The risk is that many of these implanted devices are a ticking time bomb for many Australians.”
Compensation lawyers are able to deliver victims with payments to cover the cost of ongoing rehabilitation treatments brought about by medical negligence.