Hip replacement litigation could 'drag on for years'
OIREACHTAS COMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND CHILDREN:ESTABLISHING LIABILITY for ongoing pain and suffering to patients arising from the DePuy hip replacement product recall may involve costly tripartite 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.
Yesterday, barrister Sara Antoniotti of the Medical Injuries Alliance 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. However, she said 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 Health Service Executive 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.
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 euro.
It was told patients suffered terribly when difficulties developed with the replacement hips and long-term damage may 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, and of difficulties with blood tests and scans.
Patient advocacy co-ordinator Cathriona Molloy said there appeared to be a cluster of cases in the southeast, where some consultants used the devices much more then others.