In a recent post I set out the first four things you should do if you suspect that your artificial hip has failed you. Those were:
1. Start a symptoms/pain journal.
2. Gather evidence.
3. Keep a record of all bills and out-of-pocket expenses incurred.
4. Make an appointment with your surgeon.
In this post, let’s look at three other actions you should take when you suspect your artificial hip (or other medical device) is failing:
1. Do your research.
For most of us, the starting point for research is the Internet. Many websites are well-researched, well-meaning, and helpful. If you have undergone a hip replacement surgery and you believe the artificial hip is failing, I would recommend starting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website (https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/), a federal government website providing timely information on the latest recalls or problems associated with medical devices, drugs, and other products. Also, you may want to review the court website associated with the medical device you have implanted (or which has been removed in a revision surgery). For example, for the Depuy ASR cases, much of the litigation has been situated in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, with Judge David Katz presiding over discovery, pre-trial, and other issues. On this website (http://www.ohnd.uscourts.gov/home/clerk-s-office-and-court-records/multidistrict-litigation-cases/mdl-2197/) you can read about all the court orders that have been issued in the “multi-district litigation” relating to the Depuy ASR hip. Granted, it can be a slog to read court orders, but if you hang in there you can get a sense of where the litigation has gone and where it is going. Third, I recommend going to established news outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other reliable publications. The New York Times has been quite effective in reporting on failed artificial hips and knees through its news, business, and health sections. I will update these suggestions as I find helpful, reliable websites. Finally, you can always return to this website for information on failed hips, knees, and other medical devices.
2. Be careful when researching your issue on the Internet.
I can’t stress this enough: The Internet can be a freaky place. I once saw a funny cartoon depicting a doctor handing a prescription to a patient with the caption, “take two of these before you Google your symptoms.” Indeed, within a matter of minutes on the Internet you can be reading about the worst possible outcomes in a failed hip or knee surgery, outcomes which would most likely never happen to most people who have suffered a failed medical device. Also, most people understand this but there is no requirement for truth on the Internet. People can write anything. (Of course, this rule applies to this website too; I will simply say that I am working hard to report information backed by real evidence.) If something sounds unbelievable on a website, it is probably false. I have seen at least one law firm website where the article suggested that failed artificial hip settlements–not a jury verdict, which is a different animal–were reaching into seven figures (which is not true in nearly all cases). So again, be cautious and skeptical when conducting research on the Internet.
3. Find the right lawyer.
This step is not as simple as it may sound. Many attorneys merely advertise but don’t litigate or even represent the people to whom they are marketing their legal services, and other attorneys throw up a laundry list of practice areas in which they claim expertise. As with any profession, some lawyers are good and some are not very good. You will want to find an experienced attorney who practices plaintiff-side product liability and personal injury work. It is not a great idea to let your second cousin’s son, who just graduated from law school and who just opened his own general practice, take on your case; it will not likely turn out well for you (or for him). Take your time with this important decision. For further information on this topic, look out for my post, “Finding the Attorney to Handle Your Failed Hip Case,” which I will post in a few days.