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DePuy Orthopaedics, a division of Johnson & Johnson, has a big problem on its hands. The National Hip Registry data shows that within five years of receving either a DePuy ASR™ Hip Resurfacing System or the ASR™ XL Acetabular System (total hip replacement) 1 in 8 patients needed to have a second hip replacement surgery called a revision surgery.

Symptoms from defective hip implants include:

  • hip, groin, leg, or low-back pain
  • audible clicking or grinding sounds coming from the hip
  • the sensation that the hip is not in place

Claiming that it makes "safety and health a top priority," DePuy in late August voluntarily recalled all ASR hip implant systems implanted since July 2003. DePuy was much quicker to act in the United Kingdom, issuing written alerts in April and May. In Europe, DePuy aggressively attempted to get recipients of defective implants to sign releases allowing DePuy to take possession of the implant once it was surgically removed (explanted) and to access these patient's medical records. Attorneys throughout Europe advised clients not to sign such forms for fear that the evidence would be destroyed.

DePuy is using the same tactics in the U.S. On August 24, DePuy sent a letter to all orthopedic surgeons who use DePuy hip implants. Included with the letter were the following documents drafted by DePuy's lawyers for the surgeons to give to their unsuspecting patients:

  • Sample patient cover letter
  • Information for Patients
  • Medical Release Form (allowing access to patient's confidential medical records and allowing DePuy to take possession of explanted implants)

In this letter to surgeons, DePuy provides extra incentive to the surgeons to get their patients to sign away their rights, stating, "we will provide compensation at a rate of $50 per patient for each completed form that is submitted to DePuy."

Based on my experience litigating past hip implant cases, I know it is critical for the patient to be able to have his or her explanted device examined and tested to be able to prove that it is defective. DePuy knows this too and is willing to pay a great deal of money to prevent patients from preserving their evidence. Don't fall for it.

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