A knee replacement should make your knee pain better, but some defective implants actually replaced patients’ pain with worse problems
No one gets a knee replacement unless they really need it.
Knee replacement surgery is a difficult procedure and a lengthy recovery. We do it because we’re already in pain or unable to do the things we want to do.
Usually, a knee replacement comes after lots of discussions with your doctor and evaluating your personal life circumstances, to determine whether it’s the best course of action for you.
But some patients discovered — too late — that a knee replacement has caused them additional problems.
A number of Stryker knee replacement implants have been recalled because of loosening, early wear, or faulty packaging and resulted in defective product lawsuits.
Reasons for knee replacement device recalls
To date, there have been 125 knee replacement device recalls since 2003. These include a Class I recall for the Stryker ShapeMatch Cutting Guide device, which was acknowledged by Stryker to have problems and surgeons had been advised not to use it.
There were several types of injuries that occurred as a result of defective Stryker knee implant devices. Stryker knee and hip implants use metal-on-metal (or MoM) technology. Experts have discovered that the metal ball and metal socket can rub together and become corroded, which deteriorates the implant.
When that happens, it can release tiny metal particles into the bloodstream, causing metallosis, joint dislocation, necrosis, and other injuries. It can also lead to cardiac and neurological issues because a high concentration of toxic metal cobalt and chromium is introduced into the bloodstream.
The reasons why most knee replacement recalls happen are:
- Co-mingled components. Surgical complications can arise when parts of the right and left knees are combined.
- Poor design. Some tools have been shown to have flawed designs that cause parts to fall into the surgical site, or to cause fractures in the tools or the implant devices.
- Improper fit. If the surgeon forces the device into place, it can lead to injury.
- Loosening. Replacement joints could loosen over time and require revision or replacement.
- Early wear. Many lawsuits arise when metal or plastic parts wear out faster than expected.
Symptoms of a defective knee replacement device
The most common signs of failed knee replacement include:
- Severe and persistent pain
- Muscle, bone, or nerve damage
However, a knee replacement patient with a defective device could experience symptoms that seem unrelated—which is why it’s important to watch for these problems, too:
- Skin rash
- Depression or cognitive disorders
- Neurological problems
- Thyroid dysfunction
- Renal disorders
- Loss of movement
- Squeaking or popping of joints
- Severe pain around the thigh or groin
- Poor bone fixation
- Lack of soft tissue tension
- Leg length discrepancy
- Unstable joints
- Chronic pain
- Bone loss
- Broken bones
Former Stryker implant lawsuits
Duracon Unicompartmental Knee lawsuit (2016): Stryker paid a $7.6 million settlement after 15 years of litigation.
Multidistrict litigation (MDL): An MDL was established in New Jersey in 2013 against Stryker and the company settled with 8 plaintiffs for an undisclosed amount.
There’s also an MDL pending in Minnesota, which is being added to the New Jersey lawsuit.
Stryker knee implant recalls
|Device||Number of recalls||Problem||Year|
|ShapeMatch Cutting Guide||7,868||Misalignment resulted in knee implants in the wrong position||2013|
|Scorpio Femoral Components||1,147||Packaging issues affected the devices being maintained in a sterile environment||2014|
|Triathlon Femoral Components||1,147||Packaging issues affected the devices being maintained in a sterile environment||2014|
|MIS Modular Distal Capture Triathlon Instruments||3,444||Parts were coming apart from instruments||2015|
|Modular Handle Triathlon Instruments||12,469||Parts were coming apart from instruments||2016|
|Stryker Orthopaedics Patella Assembly Instruments||2,039||Parts were coming apart from instruments||2016|
Medical device manufacturer liability: Can you sue?
If you were injured because of a Stryker knee implant or any other type of defective medical device, you might be entitled to receive damages to compensate you for your medical costs and other expenses.
When a product on the market starts receiving complaints or is discovered in postmarket surveillance to have issues, the company can either remove the product itself or wait until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) steps in on its behalf.
While a mandatory recall can require a company to fix or compensate a consumer for an affected product, sometimes that’s not enough.
If you were injured or became ill because of a defective medical device — like a knee implant — you might be able to file a lawsuit as either a medical malpractice claim or a product liability claim.
Medical malpractice is when a person becomes ill or injured because of a physician or medical provider’s negligence. Common medical malpractice claims include errors while administering anesthesia, failure to properly diagnose a disease or condition, misreading or ignoring test results, unnecessary surgery or other invasive procedure, surgical errors, poor follow-up care, errors in prescribing medication, and a variety of other issues.
There are 3 elements to prove that a doctor or provider could be negligent in a personal injury medical malpractice claim:
- Negligent violation of the standard of care. The medical profession has certain standards that are recognized and accepted as “reasonable,” according to healthcare professionals under similar circumstances. A physician or medical provider is required to administer care according to the standards that would be reasonable according to their training, specialty, and community. In short: Did the physician act as an equally trained doctor would have in a similar circumstance?
- The negligence caused an injury. Violating a standard of care, alone, is not malpractice. In any personal injury claim — medical malpractice included — there must be an actual injury that was caused by the person’s negligence. You need to prove that the negligence was the actual cause of your injury or condition.
- there’s an injury but no negligence, or
- there’s negligence but no injury.
Both negligence and injury must be established.
- There are significant damages from the injury. A medical malpractice claim can be extremely expensive because it requires significant testimony from medical experts, and there could be an extensive discovery process.
For example, in the case of knee implant injuries, a doctor could be negligent if they don’t adequately warn the patient about the risks involved in the procedure, or the long-term risks of having a knee implant.
In a product liability lawsuit, you’d likely be filing a claim against the manufacturer of the item and not the doctor who performed the procedure.
There are 3 types of defects that can lead to a product liability claim:
- Design defect. This happens if a product is inherently dangerous because the design wasn’t safe. Even if it’s manufactured exactly according to the design specifications, it remains a dangerous product when used correctly. The only way to correct the defect is to change the design and create the product differently.
- Manufacturing defect. If a product is damaged, not assembled properly, or otherwise comes through the manufacturing process incorrectly, it could result in a manufacturing defect.
- Inadequate warnings. Even if the product is designed and manufactured exactly as expected, sometimes injuries happen because the labels or packaging didn’t provide sufficient warning to the consumer about possible dangers or incorrect use.
While these are general product liability concepts, they apply to knee replacement implants and other medical device injuries.
Damages from a Stryker knee replacement lawsuit
If you were injured by a defective knee replacement device or any other medical device or procedure, you could be entitled to recover damages.
You can file a lawsuit to claim expenses for damages that include:
- Medical treatment, like hospital or doctor visits, prescription medications, assistive devices, surgical or diagnostic procedures or testing, etc.
- Lost wages if your injury required you to take time off from work
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium, which would include a loss of companionship, services (like child-rearing or other household activities), or affection for a spouse or child
- Wrongful death, which is a claim a surviving family member can make if the injury resulted in the death of a loved one because of someone’s negligence
In addition, punitive damages are sometimes awarded by the court in a case where the defendant’s negligence was malicious or especially egregious in a way that the court thinks warrants punishment. It’s often used as a deterrent to the defendant and similar companies so that the behavior isn’t repeated.
What to do if you have a recalled Stryker knee implant
If you’re experiencing symptoms that could be related to a knee implant defect, it’s important to visit a doctor who can provide a diagnosis. You might need to have some testing or other procedures to determine whether the device is failing or has failed.
If possible, it would be best to see a doctor who isn’t the one who performed the implant procedure. A different, unaffiliated doctor could be more likely to provide an unbiased diagnosis with no self-interest.
If your doctor suspects either medical malpractice or a device defect, the next step is to call a personal injury lawyer. These are among the most complex lawsuits to litigate, so you will need a lawyer who is familiar with the legal landscape around these types of cases and who can practice in both state and federal courts.
Your lawyer might encourage you to join an MDL already in process, or you might have your own lawsuit — it will depend on your specific circumstances and how the courts are handling these types of cases when the time comes.
You can find an attorney by using the Enjuris law firm directory. Select a lawyer in your state for compassionate, skilled, and competent assistance in receiving compensation for your injury.
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