Oxygen can degrade plastic joint partsBefore we talk about Exactech liners and defective packaging, we need to talk about oxygen. Oxygen is necessary for human life, but it’s a fairly reactive chemical element. We don’t think of oxygen as damaging but it can be very reactive. A perfect example of how reactive oxygen can be is fire. Get most things hot enough and they’ll start to react with the oxygen in the air and oxidize rapidly. In other words, they’ll start to burn.

This reactivity many things have to oxygen is one of the major reasons why there’s a recall for Exactech’s hip, knee and ankle implants. No, they don’t catch on fire, but they may have been exposed to too much oxygen before implantation. This could lead to premature wear, damage to bones and the implant breaking while inside the body.

How did the implants come into contact with too much oxygen? It appears to be the result of faulty packaging. Let’s take a closer look at what was wrong with the packaging and why that has allegedly led to problems with the Exactech implants.

Exactech Hip Liner RecallSeveral years ago I wrote a blog post for my product liability website where I encouraged medical device manufacturers to put me out of business. What I meant by writing that article was to say that I would be happy as a lawyer to move on to other practice areas on the day that medical device companies properly tested their medical devices before they put them on the market, ran the appropriate clinical testing, carefully reviewed the studies that came back, monitored the patients who receive the medical devices, and didn’t misrepresent the products in their marketing and advertising materials.

And if all that occurred and product defect injuries dropped through the floor, then I would happily stop practicing product liability litigation and move on to other practice areas. Or go work at my neighborhood bookstore (Quail Ridge Books).

But I also said in that article that it’s unlikely that I would be changing my line of work any time soon, and that was six years ago. And here we are, today, and it’s still the case that there is plenty of work for me to do.

Farmer Applying ParaquatIf you follow my blog, you’ve probably heard about paraquat. If you’re unfamiliar with paraquat, it’s a highly toxic herbicide that may cause Parkinson’s disease. As you might imagine, this potential link is alarming and has led to quite a few lawsuits. Let’s take a look at the current status of these paraquat cases.

Paraquat Lawsuits Begin

It’s undisputed as to the harm paraquat can cause when humans are exposed to it in large amounts over a short period of time. But much of the current litigation concerns plaintiffs who were exposed to paraquat for extended periods, such as when using it often while working on a farm. Due to this long-term exposure, plaintiffs are claiming that paraquat caused their Parkinson’s disease.

Exactech plastic liner in artificial hip system
Earlier I wrote about how Exactech was recalling many of its ankle, hip and knee liner implants. These recalls were based, at least in part, on several studies about how these implants could suffer from premature wear. This could then require patients to need revision surgery (surgery to repair problems from an earlier surgery) to fix the defective artificial joint.

In this blog post, I’ll take a look at some of these studies and try to explain what these studies found, what their findings mean and why they prompted Exactech to initiate these recalls.

The Materials Used in the Hip, Knee and Ankle Inserts or Liners

Exactech Inc. (Exactech) began as a company in 1985 and focuses on developing products for joint replacement. Many of Exactech’s products are used for ankle, knee and hip arthroplasty (surgery to repair or replace a joint in the human body).

Exactech recall polyethylene liners
Many of Exactech’s joint replacement products have performed well and improved the lives of patients. But over the last fear years, Exactech has learned from multiple studies that some of its ankle, knee and hip products can suffer from premature wear or other problems. Many of these issues could result in the need for patients to undergo revision surgery to replace the device and repair any damage it may have caused to the bone and/or soft tissue.

Exactech has initiated various recalls in response to these problems. The purpose of this blog post is to provide a brief overview of which products have been affected, what’s wrong with these products and what you can do if you’ve had one implanted into your body.

Zantac and cancerIn any product liability litigation, the injured person must ultimately prove that the injury was caused by the defective product (legal causation). A relatively easy example is when a lamp explodes and burns an individual, and in the post-explosion investigation the plaintiff discovers the lamp’s wiring was faulty and unreasonably dangerous. In the Zantac (ranitidine) multi-district litigation (MDL), thousands of plaintiffs have come forward alleging that use of the heartburn medication caused their various cancers. I discussed how Zantac is alleged to cause cancer in previous posts. You can start here if interested. In a nutshell, however, studies have shown that Zantac may contain potentially dangerous levels of NDMA (N-Nitrosodimethylamine), which is a likely carcinogen in humans.

There are several ways that NDMA is thought to be present in Zantac medication, which you can read about here. The larger point is simple: you do not want to ingest NDMA, and you certainly do not want to ingest large amounts of NDMA, especially for months or years. Remember, millions of people have taken Zantac or the generic ranitidine, some for many years, so the potential consumer-health risk is widespread. Zantac has been recalled.

Because these studies link Zantac to NDMA, plaintiffs who used Zantac and later developed one of several cancers (reasonably) came forward and filed lawsuits against the manufacturers of Zantac. The original Master Complaint listed at least sixteen different cancers, with indications that the list was not exhaustive.

iStock-512117406-300x200Claims of ovarian and other cancers due to talcum powder or baby powder use have been in the news a lot lately. There has also been plenty of litigation stemming from this possible link.

Although talcum powder studies are ongoing, it has been established that some products that use talcum powder may contain small amounts of asbestos. And there’s a well-known link between asbestos and cancer (especially mesothelioma).

So where does Johnson & Johnson come in? Well, they’ve been one of the more prominent defendants in these talcum powder/asbestos cancer lawsuits. Let’s take a quick look at the baby powder litigation and then examine how Johnson & Johnson is planning to use something called “Project Plato” to deal with their recent legal and financial losses.

CPAP and cancerIf you’ve used a Philips Respironics (Philips) CPAP or BiPAP machine to help with your sleep apnea, then there’s a good chance you’re aware that your Philips machine could be subject to a recall. I’ve written about this recall, as well as the health risks related to it and potential legal options if you’ve been harmed by your defective CPAP or BiPAP machine. In this blog post, I’ll look at one of the reasons why using one of these defective machines is so dangerous. I’ll focus on some of the studies that support the possibility that using one of these Philips machines could put you at greater risk for developing cancer.

How Do the Philips CPAP and BiPAP Machines Potentially Cause Cancer?

CPAP machine for people with sleep apnea.Many Philips CPAP and BiPAP machines (as well as Philips ventilators, but this blog post won’t focus on those) are made with polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam. This foam is used to reduce the perceived sound and vibration coming from the CPAP and BiPAP machines. This is because many people who use these machines only use them when trying to sleep. So it’s important to make the machine as quiet as possible.

Untitled-design-20-300x169There are as many as four million machines affected by the CPAP recall. The Philips CEO has stated that it may take a year or longer to fully repair or replace the affected machines. When he says repair he’s talking about replacing that problematic foam or replacing the entire machine for a brand new machine, so it’s going to take a while. And that’s one of the problems that a lot of the people that are calling my office are saying, and that is, that they use this machine to sleep and some of them are worried that they will have to use the recalled machine to sleep. So they’re in a tough position.  Again, I’m not a doctor and I don’t give medical advice, but I would say if you can find a replacement machine quickly, set aside your recalled CPAP machine and don’t use it and beyond that, you just have to talk to your doctor about what’s going on and what you should do next.

Potential Injuries from the Recalled CPAP Machines

What are the potential injuries from the recalled CPAP machines? These injuries would include somewhat modest problems like irritation to the eyes or skin, a cough, headache or dizziness. These are not unimportant issues, they can be serious problems, and they run from the gamut from headaches and nausea to sinus infection. More serious injuries include organ damage, asthma and even cancers. The medical community is looking at this aggressively and quickly and trying to figure out all the many problems that can result from inhaling these particulate foam pieces from the CPAP machines or getting exposed to the off-gassing.

CPAP machine for people with sleep apnea.Millions of people use the CPAP and BiPAP machines to alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea, so there’s a lot of people that should be interested in this topic. I’m going to move pretty quickly through this information, but I do want to start from the very beginning:

What is a CPAP and a BiPAP machine?

CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. This machine is programmed to produce pressurized air at one steady air pressure level. The way this works is if you want to change the air pressure on any CPAP machine, you have to reset the device’s settings. CPAP machines are extremely common. There are millions of CPAP machines in use and they’re used to treat obstructive sleep apnea.

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I was involved in a case for the faulty hip replacements. Clay Hodges represented me. I can't say enough about how much he has helped me. Clay was able to win multiple settlements on my behalf with most of them being the maximum amount able to be awarded. Matt J.
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Clay, thank you sir for making a disheartening experience at least palatable, you and your staff were honest, caring and understanding through the entire process of my wife’s hip replacements, while monetary settlements never make the pain and suffering end, it sometimes is the only way people can fight back to right a wrong. J. V.
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We are absolutely pleased with how Clay Hodges handled my husband’s hip replacement claim. He always kept us informed of the progress. And, his work resulted in a settlement which we are extremely pleased. Thank you, Clay! Carol L. & Norm L.
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