The New York Times: The High Cost of Failing Artificial Hips

RA Guy Community News 3 Comments

The most widespread medical implant failure in decades — involving thousands of all-metal artificial hips that need to be replaced prematurely — has entered the money phase.

Medical and legal experts estimate the hip failures may cost taxpayers, insurers, employers and others billions of dollars in coming years, contributing to the soaring cost of health care. The financial fallout is expected to be unusually large and complex because the episode involves a class of products, not a single device or just one company.

The case of Thomas Dougherty represents one particularly costly example. He spent five months this year without a left hip, largely stuck on a recliner watching his medical bills soar.

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Comments 3

  1. abcsofra

    This is a prime example of many recalls, ill side effects, etc. that the FDA has either missed or deliberately overlooked in the past decade. How in the world are we, patients, to know what is safe and not safe if we can not rely on an agency that is there to protect us? And why have so many drugs and devices failed or had deadly impact but was only known once it was on the open market? It is my belief that our testing process must be revised and the reporting process greatly improved. You once had a website that reports more thoroughly then our FDA that we can check for reported side effects, etc. Keep up the great work ra guy! You shine a light on many dark spots and as much as we might want to believe that things are hunky dory, they are not always.

  2. Joie

    If the United States had a national joint replacement registry in place that kept data about joint replacement surgeries and joint implant devices, then problems would come to the attention of US ortho surgeons sooner and the use of problematic joint implants could be restricted or joint implants taken off the market sooner.

    Sweden has had a national joint replacement registry for DECADES. As a result of information from their registry’s database, surgeons can quickly learn why a specific type of implant is problematic. Sweden has a joint replacement failure rate a third of that in the US. (1) There are several other countries that have had national joint replacement registries FOR YEARS. It was data from Britain’s joint replacement registry that led to the recall of a Depuy hip replacement implant in the US.(2)

    As for the US, it is one of the few developed countries that hasn’t had a national joint replacement registry in place — Sweden, Australia, Great Britain, Canada and South Africa are some of the countries that do. In December 2010, however, efforts to create an American Joint Replacement Registry began (3). Hopefully, with the data collected by this registry and other hospital joint replacement registries, such as Kaiser’s in California, not only will patient outcomes be better, but millions of health care dollars will be saved from unneeded revision surgeries.




  3. Kim

    I had a double hip replacement when I was 24 due to a rare bone deformity condition. Having the metal on metal implants was the best decision i could have made- and I should have had it done 5 years before I did. My life has changed considerably due to the implants and I can walk without pain. I knew the potential risks but took my chances as my alternative was a wheelchair. Its scary to think of consequences of taking that risk (like metal debris and possible recall) but even a few years of being pain free and active was worth it!

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