DePuy hip joint recall 'could be costly'
Liability to patients for ongoing pain and suffering arising from the DePuy hip replacement product recall may involve costly, tri-partite litigation that could drag on for years, the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children has been told.
Some 3,500 people had defective DePuy Orthopaedics hip joints fitted in Ireland in 16 public and 14 private hospitals before DePuy ordered a worldwide recall of the product in 2010.
This morning barrister Sara Antoniotti said DePuy had offered to pay out-of-pocket expenses for the patients affected as well as reaching an agreement on the costs of rehabilitative surgery, but there was no agreement on compensation for ongoing pain and suffering which may be endured by many patients into the future.
She said in the absence of any “indication” from DePuy that the company would pay compensation the only alternative was costly and long term “tripartite litigation” between the State on behalf of the HSE and the hospitals concerned, the consultant surgeons who fitted the devices and the manufacturers.
Ms Antoniotti called for the committee to put “pressure” on the Government to push for a solution between the parties that would remove patients from any future litigation on liability.
The committee also heard legal cases could involve further independent medical assessments, possibly abroad, and the cost of each medical report could be several thousand euros.
The committee was told patients suffered terribly when difficulties developed with the replacement hips and long-term damage many be done to organs as a result of leakages of chromium and cobalt. It also heard of long delays in accessing files from the HSE, difficulties and delays with blood tests and scans and ongoing pain.
Audrey Hennebry, a nurse form the southeast region, said she had led an active life paying tennis, walking and exercising regularly before she was fitted with the DePuy devices. Now, even after corrective surgeries, Ms Hennebry said she was in constant pain and fearful of the effects of chromium and cobalt on her organs. She said there were “horrendous stories out there to be told”.