DePuy’s latest defense: Infections, not a defective implant, led to revision surgery

depuys-latest-defenseThe complications suffered by the retired Montana prison guard who claims his DePuy Orthopaedics ASR metal-on-metal hip implant was defective were not caused by the device but from an infection he had in his hip as well as other prior medical conditions.

According to a Bloomberg report, this is DePuy’s latest counter as it attempts to defend its record against thousands of claims that its notorious ASR metal-on-metal hip implant is defective, causing at least that many recipients to seek revision surgery to have it removed. Kransky is the first of more than 10,000 victims of the device to have his case heard before a jury. A trial has been ongoing for more than a month in Los Angeles Superior Court and recently, the defense began calling witnesses after Kransky’s attorneys spent a few weeks showing that DePuy had failed to properly test its ASR metal-on-metal hip implant for safety and effectiveness and that it failed to warn of dangerous complications and withheld evidence that it was defective and causing many recipients to suffer innumerable complications.

To counter this claim, DePuy attorneys have attempted to place the blame for the complications Kransky suffered on the plaintiff himself. On Tuesday, according to the Bloomberg report, Gonzalo Ballon-Landa testified that Kransky had an infection in his hip and that, along with other conditions from which he suffered, caused him to eventually undergo a revision surgery. Ballon-Landa is an infectious diseases doctor who was called to the stand as the latest expert witness for DePuy. 

The doctor testified that Kransky had an infection “that spanned several years” and it was the infection that caused him pain, not the allegedly defective ASR hip implant. Ballon-Landa said the infection from which Kransky suffered was “the most common cause of artificial joint infections.” Kransky’s hip infection was present as a lump from 2009 until the ASR hip implant was removed in 2011.

Attorneys for Kransky immediately jumped on the opportunity to cross-examine Ballon-Landa and asked him why five physicians who had examined Kransky never noted an infection in his hip. They also presented evidence from a medical journal which showed that many recipients of metal-on-metal hip implants show signs of a “deep-seated infection” but that there is no infection actually present.

DePuy attorneys also tried to say that other conditions from which Kransky suffered were equally responsible for the problems he blames on defects with the ASR hip implant. They blamed his diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, strokes, and kidney cancer. They also claim he is a vasculopath and had diseased blood vessels. All these conditions caused him to experience elevated levels of metallic ions to accumulate in his bloodstream, cause severe organ and tissue damage and develop tumor and cyst growth throughout his body, DePuy claims.

The company is going to have a difficult time arguing that case for every one of the 10,000 people who’ve already filed a similar lawsuit to Kransky’s and for the future victims of the ASR hip implant.

DePuy recalled the ASR metal-on-metal hip implant in August 2010 amid widespread reports of its early failures in thousands of recipients. At the time of the recall, DePuy admitted that as many as 12 percent of recipients may experience early failures of their hip implant. Evidence presented at this trial show that some surgeons have noted an early-failure rate closer to 40 percent.

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