If you are experiencing pain or suffering from a defective medical device,  it’s wise to consult an attorney. For answers about legal issues in this article or with your own malfunctioning medical product, call me directly for help – Lawrence Egerton, 336-273-0508, or 800-800-4LAW, or e-mail me at [email protected].

Archaeologists studying the bones of people buried thousands of year ago can uncover an amazing amount of information about how those people lived. The wear on a human skeleton can reveal such things as how much a person weighed, whether he or she was left-handed or right-handed, or even that person’s occupation or position in society.

And if you have had an artificial joint implant, that device can reveal information about you.

This is something that the DePuy Orthopaedics company knows very well.

Which would explain why, if you are having hip “revision surgery” to replace one of their faulty hip implants, this company would like to obtain possession of that defective joint after it is removed.

That joint falling into their hands is not something you want to happen. The device that was implanted in your hip – called an “explant” after it has been removed – belongs to you. You may not have considered that it is your property, bought and paid for, but it is.

Here is some background on the DePuy situation: On August 26, 2010, DePuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, issued a voluntary recall of two hip replacement systems. The hip implants are known as the ASR XL Acetabular System and the DePuy ASR Hip Resurfacing System. About 93,000 of them have been implanted worldwide.

DePuy has disclosed that chances are that 13 percent of patients – one out of eight – who had total hip replacement with the ASR system will need painful and expensive revision surgery. This link will show you some symptoms of a faulty device.

DePuy has since contacted surgeons who implanted the devices with an array of requests and a cash offer. One request that doctors provide patients with a release form that will give DePuy access to your medical records. The form describes what DePuy is asking for as “Specific description of information to be used or disclosed, including date(s).” But the form calls for much more than mere information. Look at this excerpt of what they want turned over to them: 

The explanted ASR product component(s), associated hip stem, if applicable, and related tissue samples, if available.

In other words, DePuy wants possession of the defective joint itself after it is surgically removed from the patient – and tissue samples from the patient! 

The letter to physicians adds: “We appreciate your assistance with this process, and we will provide compensation at a rate of $50 per patient for each completed form that is submitted to DePuy.”

In another letter to physicians, DePuy warns:

“We regret that without access to all of the appropriate medical information, it is unlikely that we will be able to consider the patient’s claims for reimbursement and prompt resolution of their claim may not be possible.”

An investigation we made into one client’s experience with revision surgery turned up a disturbing story. After following a tangled trail in our effort to locate the explant we found that the device was reportedly thrown away after the surgery. Actually, we were only told it was thrown away – no one could really tell us with absolute certainty where it was. It could well be in the possession of DePuy Orthopaedics.

The company has certainly stated clearly that it wants the explants. The condition of the device could be crucial evidence that it was faulty. Or DePuy could want to use the explant to try to prove that your lifestyle caused the failure of the device.

The attorneys of the Egerton Law firm can help you. We can review the documents that you receive, explain their ramifications, and advise you on how to proceed. If you have already signed documents, we can tell you how to undo that.

We are currently representing a number of persons who are planning the revision surgery. We are arranging with the surgeons and hospitals to have our representative present at the operation to obtain the explant, which will then be packed in specially designed, iced packages and sent by Federal Express to an independent laboratory for analysis and storage.

It is vital that you understand your legal rights and how to protect them before you see your doctor, and especially before you schedule any surgery.

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