Two months after recalling Rejuvenate and ABG II — Stryker still has no good plan to compensate patients
What are they thinking? After publicly admitting its Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants fail because they cause heavy metal poisoning in patients, Stryker has not stepped up to the plate and promised affected patients it will pay for their revision surgeries. Stryker recalled both its Rejuvenate and ABG II hip implants the first week of July, 2012. Since that time thousands of patients have received notice from their doctors that the hip implanted in them is defective and has been recalled. Most doctors have been telling their patients that when it fails it has the potential for causing soft tissue necrosis and systemic metallosis.
After returning to their doctor many of these patients now have an explanation for the months of pain they have been experiencing for which they have received little or no explanation. Their doctors have checked their blood levels for metal ion contamination and found them to have excessive levels of cobalt in their blood. In addition many have had metal artifact reduction sequence (MARS) MRI scans that have revealed pseudo tumor formation and a collection of fluid around hip joint.
In my experience most doctors faced with these findings have suggested to the patient they need revision surgery. However, many of these patients just had their hip implanted last year. They paid a large deductible and spent weeks out of work recuperating and rehabilitating. Some of my clients are still paying for their original surgery on a
monthly basis. Although their doctor is recommending surgery, their hip implant is poisoning them and they are in pain, they can’t afford to have their defective hip removed.
If Stryker recalled this product the first week in July they obviously have known about this problem for some time. I’ve personally spoken with doctors who say that before the recall they were telling Stryker about the problems they were experiencing with these hips. If Stryker knew about this problem well before the recall that means they’ve had plenty of time to establish an efficient and objective system for paying the medical expense and lost wages for the victims of these hip implants upfront. Despite all that time, all Stryker is currently offering these victims is,”the opportunity to file a claim.” Stryker is providing absolutely no assurance to its victims that they will in fact pay the expense associated with revision surgery.
Stryker’s reaction to having marketed a device that has hurt thousands of patients stands in stark contrast to Johnson & Johnson DePuy’s response after it recalled its defective ASR hip implant. Almost immediately after the recall Johnson & Johnson DePuy announced it had established an objective, efficient and prompt means for victims to have the defective device removed from their body. They hired Broadspire, an independent adjusting company to process victim’s claims for medical expenses, lost wages and other out-of-pocket expenses associated with having their devices removed. While this didn’t compensate victims for their pain and suffering, and having to undergo a revision surgery, or the real exposure to metallosis, it was the responsible thing to do.
I have written about this before but it was some time ago. A lot of time has passed. I have urged Stryker to put some objective claims process in place that assures qualifying victims their medical expenses and lost wages will be reimbursed if they undergo the surgery to have the defective device removed. Stryker remains silent to the damage it has caused.
Every day I receive several calls from clients in pain, have elevated levels of cobalt circulating in their bloodstream, have fluid collecting around their implant and a pseudo tumor growing in their hip who have been told by their doctor:
- Their hip needs to come out.
- The longer the hip stays in, the more likely they suffer irreversible, permanent damage to the tissues around their hip.
- The longer revision surgery is put off the more fixed and difficult to remove the stem is and the more complicated and risky the revision surgery.
Unfortunately, many of these victims cannot afford multi-thousand dollar deductibles and weeks out of work. This is a terrible position in which to find oneself.
A quick Internet search revealed a very nice analyst report from 2010 regarding Stryker’s cash position. That year Stryker reported $3.4 billion in available net cash. The company could certainly afford to pay for these victims to have Stryker’s defective device removed from their bodies.