Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from patients about their DePuy ASR hip implant. We provide this list as a resource, but we also invite you to contact the Slack & Davis product liability and medical device attorneys to learn more.
I received a letter from my doctor that says my hip implant has been recalled. What does that mean?
In August 2010, the FDA announced that all of DePuy’s ASR hip implant products were being recalled because they are causing serious health problems in a large percentage of people who received the implants. If you received a DePuy ASR hip implant, you likely received a letter from your orthopedic surgeon or from DePuy, Johnson & Johnson, or Broadspire, informing you of the recall. The fact that the FDA recalled the ASR hip implants does not mean that you need to undergo surgery immediately to remove the defective hip implant. It does mean that you need to make an appointment with your orthopedic surgeon to check the level of metals from the hip implant that may have broken off the hip implant and travelled into your bloodstream. If you are experiencing any sort of pain, clicking, swelling, redness or discomfort surrounding your DePuy ASR hip implant, you should also get an MRI. These tests will help your doctor determine if your DePuy ASR implant should be removed.
I have a recalled DePuy ASR hip and my doctor says it is fine, but she wants me to come back for blood tests every three months. What should I do?
If you have seen your doctor since the recall, most likely your doctor performed blood tests to determine the levels of Chromium and Cobalt in your bloodstream. Both the ball and cup components of the DePuy ASR hips are made of Chromium and Cobalt. One of the dangerous problems with the ASR hips is that the metal ball grinds against the metal cup and particles of Chromium and Cobalt break away. The metal particles settle into the muscle and tissue around the hip implant and also get into your bloodstream. A blood test can tell your doctor how much metal is circulating in your body. If your Chromium and Cobalt levels are higher than normal, the doctor will likely recommend that the DePuy ASR hip be removed immediately, before the metal particles reach toxic levels in your body. If your Chromium and Cobalt levels are within an acceptable range at your first blood test, your doctor will have you repeat the blood test every three months to make sure the metal levels are still below dangerous levels. It is important to get these blood tests to limit the amount of damage the DePuy ASR hip implants may cause.
I keep getting calls and letters from Broadspire. What is Broadspire?
Broadspire is a claims administrator, hired by Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson owns DePuy Orthopaedics. Around the same time the FDA announced the recall of the ASR hips, Johnson and Johnson hired Broadspire to start contacting people who received the defective hip implants. Broadspire offers to reimburse these patients for their copays, blood work and even revision surgery. In exchange for reimbursement of the out-of-pocket expenses, Broadspire, DePuy and Johnson & Johnson get access to your personal medical records and can freely contact your doctors without your permission. If you do undergo revision surgery to remove the defective hip, these companies will take the damaged hip back so that it cannot be used as evidence in a lawsuit.
I got contacted by Broadspire and now every time I see my doctor or go for a blood test, someone asks me for my Claim Number. Do I have to give it to them?
Broadspire has assigned Claim Numbers to individuals it suspects received a DePuy ASR hip implant. Johnson & Johnson, DePuy and Broadspire have convinced many doctors’ offices and labs that all payments related to the recalled hips must be processed through Broadspire. This is not true. The individual patient has the right to pay for medical care however s/he chooses. The doctors and labs are capable of processing payments through the insurance companies as they would in the absence of a recall. You can refuse to use any Claim Number and have your payments processed through your insurance.
My doctor said that I have to go to a certain lab to get blood tests and a certain provider to get my MRI. These places are not covered by my health insurance and they require a Broadspire Claim Number. What do I do?
Johnson & Johnson, DePuy and Broadspire have handpicked certain labs for processing blood work and certain providers for obtaining MRIs. This makes it easier for these companies to obtain instant access to medical records for as many injured individuals as possible, no questions asked. No one can force you to use the medical providers handpicked by Johnson & Johnson, DePuy or Broadspire. You do not have to provide anyone with a Claim Number in order to obtain medical care. You can choose to pay for your medical care using your health insurance or out-of-pocket.
How does Broadspire know my medical information? Do I have to talk to Broadspire’s people?
If you have already seen your doctor since the recall, you most likely signed a consent form giving Johnson & Johnson, DePuy and Broadspire complete access to your medical records and allowing the companies to talk to your doctor directly about your case. You can revoke that consent at anytime by informing Broadspire. Even if you cooperated with Broadspire’s employees in the past, you don’t have to speak with them going forward, and you can request that your medical records be returned to you.
Broadspire is offering me money to settle my claims against Johnson & Johnson and DePuy. What do I do?
Broadspire recently sent out letters stating that it is ready to begin settling claims on behalf of Johnson & Johnson and DePuy. When considering any settlement offer, it is important to calculate the costs of all past medical treatment related to the defective hip, any future medical treatment you might need, including additional hip replacement surgeries and treatment for any number of health problems caused by excessive blood levels of Chromium and Cobalt, past and future pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, disability and disfigurement, lost enjoyment of life and any losses to family members. If the settlement offer does not take into account these costs, you may wish to consult a medical device attorney to help you obtain compensation for your injuries.