Hip replacement components are important medical devices used to give people with damaged joints better mobility and freedom from chronic pain. Zimmer Biomet makes orthopedic and medical devices and is based in Warsaw, Indiana. The company makes many products including hip systems used in thousands of hip replacement surgeries. The company takes in nearly $5 billion each year with the sale of its products.
One of Zimmer’s hip components, the Durom acetabular cup, is an important part of the hip system, as it replaces the socket of the hip joint. Unfortunately for thousands of the people who had this component implanted, it is flawed. It has caused damage in many people and required many more revision surgeries than other types of hip system components. Zimmer hip lawsuits have been filed by hundreds of patients who were harmed and many of those received settlements from Zimmer Biomet.
Hip Replacement Surgery
Hip replacement surgery is done for patients who have significant damage in the joint, enough to cause a lot of pain and to limit mobility. The surgery may replace all or some of the parts of the joint, depending on the extent of the damage. Damage to the hip joint may be caused by arthritis, bone cancer, injuries, or other issues.
The hip joint is made up of a socket or cup on the pelvis and a ball attached to the top of the femur, or thighbone. Artificial hips like Zimmer’s are generally made of three parts. A cup replaces the socket, or is used to line a socket that has had damaged bone removed. A ball replaces the head of the femur, and a stem is used to connect the ball to the top of the femur bone.
The Durom Acetabular Cup
Zimmer Biomet makes several different hip systems as well as individual components. They make the parts needed to do total and partial hip replacements, and also those used in revision surgeries. Revision surgery is done to replace a damaged artificial hip or to correct any damage or failure in the hip system. Among the many products is Zimmer’s line of acetabular components. These are the replacement cups for the pelvis. The acetabulum is the natural cup-like surface of the pelvis, which meets the head of the femur to create the hip joint.
One of Zimmer’s cup products is the Durom acetabular cup, also known as just the Durom Cup. The cup is made from a single piece of metal alloy containing chromium and cobalt. Metal hip components are more recent developments in hip replacements. They are supposed to be more durable and to last longer for more active and younger patients than older hip systems made of plastic or ceramic.
The Durom Cup was not only designed to be more durable and to last longer without failing, it was also supposed to give patients a greater range of motion. Newer hip systems that provide more range have larger balls, but these cause more wear and tear on the cup. The Durom Cup was supposed to provide greater durability so these hip systems with more range of motion could last longer.
The Durom Cup is a curved piece of metal that is fitted into the natural cup on the pelvis bone. Surgeons remove damaged bone and then attach the cup to the remaining bone as a replacement for that lost bone tissue. Unfortunately for Zimmer and the thousands of people who received the Durom Cup, it has proven to fail more often that it should.
Problems with the Zimmer Hip
Zimmer hip lawsuits have been numerous in recent years over the Durom Cup. It was approved for use in hip replacement surgeries by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, but not long after reports indicated that there were some serious problems with the cup. In one study researchers found that the hips with Durom Cups resulted in higher revision rates as compared to those that used different cups.
A major issue that has been found with the Durom Cup is that it tends to slip out of place. This can cause a tremendous amount of pain for patients, not to mention injuries and damage to the joint, bone, and surrounding tissue. When a cup slips out of place a patient needs to have revision surgery. Reports have shown that the failures of the Durom Cup occurred just two years or less after they were implanted. Hip systems are supposed to last much longer than that.
It was found in a study that the problem with the Durom Cup was with the way it was constructed. The surface that is fixed to the natural bone in the hip was not designed well enough to adhere and stay in place. It caused the cup to slip out of place in too many individuals. The study authors that made this conclusion criticized Zimmer for not testing the cup well enough. Although it was approved by the FDA, the agency allows medical devices that are similar to others on the market to be approved without rigorous testing.
Multidistrict Litigation over the Zimmer Hip
Thousands of people received the Durom Cup during hip replacement surgery and many of them suffered the pain and damage of having it move out of place. These patients had to endure one or more additional surgeries to correct the damage and to get new hip components. Many of them have brought lawsuits against Zimmer, blaming the company for the faulty hip part.
In 2010 many of these lawsuits were consolidated into a multidistrict litigation, or MDL, to streamline the legal process. In the first settlement the company agreed to, Zimmer paid out around $480 million. This did not resolve all cases, though, and the legal battles continued. By 2016 the company had agreed to settle the majority of the rest of the cases for an undisclosed amount.
Additional Zimmer Hip Lawsuits
The MDL was not the only case against Zimmer over the Durom Cup. Other individual lawsuits have been filed and some settled. One example of these was a case resolved in 2015. A jury decision awarded a plaintiff in Los Angeles $9.2 million. The jury decided that Zimmer was liable in the case of the man whose hip failed and ordered the company to pay him $153,000 to cover his medical costs related to the failure, as well as $2.6 million for economic damages and an additional $6.4 million for future economic damages.
Reasons to File a Zimmer Lawsuit
Plaintiffs who have sued Zimmer over their failed hips have made several claims against the company. They claim that Zimmer failed to warn them of the risks associated with using the Durom Cup, that it did not adequately test the component, that the company marketed it as safe when it was not, and that the company provided inaccurate statements about how safe and effective the Durom Cup was.
Plaintiffs who received settlement money from Zimmer requested the compensation because the hip component caused them to rack up a lot of medical expenses. They also suffered pain and emotional trauma from a failed hip and multiple revision surgeries. If you think you have a case over the Durom Cup, you may still have time to recover similar compensation.
- http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/ProductsandMedicalProcedures/ImplantsandProsthetics/MetalonMetalHipImplants/ucm241770.htm - 3