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Consumer Reports calls for hip and knee replacement warranties

When you make an investment in something like new tires for your car, often there is a warranty that lets you know how long the tires are supposed to last before you need to buy another set. Such warranties help protect consumers. So why are similar warranties not offered for medical devices such as hip and knee replacements?

Hartford residents will be interested to know that Consumer Reports is campaigning to require manufacturers to provide warranties for medical implants. The push comes after a series of failures in hip implants made by Johnson & Johnson and Stryker.

As the baby boomer generation gets older, surgeries for hip and knee replacements are expected to quadruple in the next 17 years. That means about 4 million people will likely receive hip or knee implants each year, and the majority of people receiving these implants will be younger than 65 years old.

In other words, the implants will likely need to last at least 20 years in many cases. Unfortunately, though, there is no guarantee from most manufacturers.

Consumer Reports is calling for manufacturers to pay for the cost of replacement surgery after a patient's implant fails. Such replacement surgeries often lead to subsequent surgeries, and patients and insurance companies often end up footing the bill.

In fact, Consumer Reports estimates that revisions make up nearly 20 percent of all hip replacement surgeries and almost 10 percent of knee replacement surgeries.

If Connecticut residents have experienced the failure of an implanted medical device, then there may be grounds for a lawsuit to pursue compensation. Medical device manufacturers often have deep pockets for defending themselves in court, and patients who have been injured because of a manufacturer's negligence would be wise to meet with an attorney with experience in medical malpractice and defective product claims.

Source: Consumer Reports, "Your new hip or knee implant should come with a warranty," Sept. 20, 2013

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