The Impact of the Exactech Recall on Patient Safety
Exactech has recalled hundreds of thousands of its implantable medical devices. This includes ankle, hip, knee and shoulder implants that the company shipped to doctors’ offices and hospitals across the country. These recalls present substantial risks for patients, with complications necessitating revision surgery in many cases.
Understanding the Patient Safety Risks Linked to Defective Exactech Devices
The specific risks patients face depend on the devices they received. It also depends on when they underwent their joint replacement procedures, as Exactech has recalled different devices at different times (and for different reasons). With that said, there are some overarching concerns, and some of the effects are the same regardless of why a device fails:
Early Signs and Symptoms of Defective Device Issues
Due to the widespread issues with Exactech’s implantable joint replacement devices, nearly all patients who received these devices need to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of device failures. With ankle, hip, knee and shoulder replacements, these signs and symptoms include:
- Pain in the area surrounding the joint where your replacement is located
- A crunching, clicking or grinding sensation in the joint where your replacement is located
- A feeling of looseness in the affected joint
- Swelling or redness around the affected joint (which may early signs of an infection)
- Weakness, loss of muscle control, or a feeling of instability in the affected joint
However, this list is not exclusive. Specific issues with specific devices can cause additional signs and symptoms. As a result, if you have received an Exactech replacement device, it is worth speaking with your doctor about any concerns of which you need to be aware. Your doctor can also tell you if your device has been recalled—and, if so, what this means for your potential immediate and long-term treatment needs.
Complications Caused By Defective Device Failures
If left untreated, Exactech implantable device failures can potentially cause a variety of complications. These complications can be very serious—and even life-threatening in some cases. Oftentimes, revision surgery will be necessary to protect patients’ safety (although, as discussed below, revision surgery presents certain risks as well), as certain issues cannot be fixed except by replacement of the defective device.
Some examples of the complications that can be caused by Exactech implantable device failures include:
Several of Exactech’s implantable medical devices suffer from issues that cause them to degrade over time. When they degrade, this can result in dangerous chemicals and particulates being released into the body. This can lead to infections—which, while generally treatable, can present serious health risks if they go unnoticed or ignored.
Infections are a risk with all types of defective Exactech implantable devices. When patients suffer from infections, it will typically be necessary not only to treat the infection but to address the cause of the infection as well. This will mean undergoing revision surgery in many cases.
Joint Failures (Resulting in Falls and Other Accidents)
Another serious patient safety risk associated with Exacted device defects is the risk of joint failure. Whether due to degradation or other issues, patients’ joints can fail—literally falling apart in some cases—and this can have severe consequences. Not only can it cause internal damage to the joint and the surrounding bones, nerves and tissue, but it can also lead to falls and other accidents.
Periprosthetic Bone Fractures
Even if an Exactech device doesn’t fail completely, weakness, loosening and other issues affecting the device can lead to periprosthetic bone fractures. These are fractures in the bones attached to the implantable device. When patients suffer periprosthetic fractures, treatment can be difficult, as both the fracture and the issues with the device itself will need to be addressed.
Bone fractures can often be especially dangerous for older patients. Treatment itself can be risky in some cases, particularly with fractures caused by defective hip implants. But, periprosthetic fractures present risks in all cases, and all patients must do everything they can to ensure that they receive the treatment and the financial compensation they need to recover.
Health Risks Associated with Revision Surgery
Along with complications caused by Exactech device failures, another patient safety concern has to do with the risk of complications associated with revision surgery. When a defective medical device degrades or fails, removal and replacement of the device will often be the only option for protecting the patient going forward.
However, revision surgeries themselves can be risky. Adverse reactions to anesthesia, excessive bleeding, blood clotting and infections are all very real concerns. As these are often long and difficult procedures, the risks associated with revision surgeries can be greater than those associated with a patient’s original implantation.
Managing the Costs of Defective Exactech Device Failures: Another Very Real Concern
Another very real concern has to do with the financial and non-financial costs of patients’ medical device failures. Regardless of whether revision surgery is needed, dealing with a defective implant can prove extremely costly. Patients can incur substantial medical debt, and if they are unable to work during the recovery process, they can find themselves struggling to pay their other bills due to their loss of income.
Pain, limited mobility and other effects can also have a substantial impact on patients’ day-to-day lives. Fortunately, these are all costs that patients are entitled to recover in many cases. Exactech is facing lawsuits related to its defective medical devices across the country, and, by issuing numerous recalls, the company has effectively acknowledged liability in many cases. Most patients who have not yet filed lawsuits still have time to do so, and if you think you may have a claim (or don’t know and would like to find out), you can discuss your legal rights with a lawyer for free.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Lawyer at Searcy Denney
If you need to know more about filing a claim against Exactech related to one of its recalled implantable medical devices, we invite you to get in touch. Call 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.