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Warnings to all metal on metal implant recipients! Don’t miss this!

I hope as readers of Earl’s blog, I am speaking to the converted, however I am asking each and every one of you to do something very important! Please read all of the recently released information from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) very carefully (available on this site).

How safe are metal-on-metal hip implants?

If you still have a metal on metal implant (MOM) in your body, or you have a loved one, friend or acquaintance who does, please investigate its removal as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter if it is a Johnson and Johnson/De Puy, Smith and Nephew, Global Icon, Stryker, or any other company’s MOM device, there is now over-whelming evidence that they are not just technically and fundamentally faulty, but it is also fairly obvious that getting too much truth about these devices from an Orthopaedic Surgeon can be difficult. (Although thankfully there are some surgeons actually standing up now and being counted). Seek a second opinion if you can, trust your family doctor as they seem to be actually supporting many of the people I have spoken to, (maybe no vested interest or guilt are somethings they don’t have to wrestle with). I also implore you to use what ever modes of communication that you have at your disposal to tell anyone who will listen, your experiences, the way this has affected your life (or that of your loved ones) and who was responsible, do not be afraid to mention company names or surgeons.

Here in Australia, we have a professional body called the Australian Orthopaedic Association (AOA), it’s president is Dr Graham Mercer. After the release of the information that I have asked you to refer to from the BMJ above, our national newspaper, the Australian, reported this in an article the following day: “Australian Orthopaedic Association president Graham Mercer said Australian guidelines recommend annual assessment of patients with the metal-on-metal hips, but blood tests would normally be done only if pain or other symptoms were detected.” (I refer to the recent ruling by the British MHRA regarding compulsory blood testing for all recipients of a MOM implant). Whilst Dr Mercer is speaking as the president of the peak professional body for Orthopaedic Surgeons in this country, I would be interested to know how many people out there actually have had to ‘ask’ for their cobalt or chromium levels to be taken, were warned about the risks of a MOM implant before they were given it, particularly if this occurred after 2005, or, were told that they had to have an annual follow-up for the rest of the time that they had the MOM implant.

Personally I can say I had to demand the test, was not warned about any of the known issues with the MOM implant when I received it in 2007 and was told after the first year that as it had such a good expectancy, that I would only have to be checked if there were any issues directly related to the hip! I wonder Dr Mercer, do you have complete faith that all of your members are indeed following the ‘Australian guidelines’, before you answer this, was Dr Oakeshott of Sportsmed in Adelaide (recently retired) a member of the AOA? I don’t think the many patients he put an ASR in would think now that he followed any guidelines except those that suited his hip-pocket! I would also like all of you who started having problems with your hip, only to be told it was your knee, your back, or anywhere else on your body except your hip, or who suffered any of the other side effects of cobalt/chromium poisoning (kidney complications, immune system disturbances, eye or ear complications, fatigue, headaches etc) that was never related to your implant, to reflect back on the attitude that your Orthopaedic Surgeon took to this before the media storm in September 2010 when Johnson and Johnson/De Puy ‘voluntarily’ recalled (still can’t get my head around the use of this term, what are we cars!!) and whether that changed after this fact. I hope, but feel I may be misplaced, that there were surgeons out there who were honest and up-front, however after speaking to countless people here and overseas, the over whelming response to this was that they were either ‘down-played’ as it was all ‘media hype’, were told not to worry, it isn’t a problem for you, or were recommended to see another surgeon!!

This is no longer just an issue for the Johnson and Johnson ASR patients, as has been stated recently “it may well be the tip of the iceberg”. Although readers of this site will recognise the issues with the Smith and Nephew products, as well as other company’s from the input of so many of you, this needs to be told to the rest of the public who are blissfully unaware. If you are affected in any way by this, please seek trustworthy health and legal advice for your own good! If you have a loved one or friend in these circumstance please implore them to act before their health is irreparably damaged!!

Also, I have been inspired by two gentlemen that this negligent action has brought me in to contact with. Bob Lugton and Howard Sadwin have been through experiences that only a few of us can imagine or understand, but what they have done is to stand up and speak out on behalf of all those who were unable to do so for themselves. I am also very aware that people have died because of this and others who continue to suffer on a minute by minute basis! These companies, the regulators and any surgeon who has knowingly been a part of this terrible medical negligence must be brought to account. Whilst money can always ease suffering and hopefully improve quality of life, it can NEVER replace the damage that has been done and the ruining of so many people’s lives, not just the patients but those close to them as well as my wife will testify. These negligent actions must NEVER be repeated and it is up to us to push for the changes that need to occur to ensure this. The companies need to to learn their moral errors do not go unnoticed, that their amazing profit margins should never come at a human cost, that regulators are indeed here to protect the patient, not rely on the funding of the companies looking for device approval and Surgeons need to remember their basic tenant of “DO NO HARM” and “being an advocate for their patients”, and actually demonstrate the integrity that all too few of them have demonstrated throughout this whole sorry saga.

I would like to recognise Dr Crawford (4 Corners program “joint reaction”) and Dr Tony Nargol (UK Surgeon) for actually being prepared to speak out publicly about this. My surgeon, who has asked me not to mention his name, who has provided me with some rather damning evidence, including photos from during my recent 2nd revision and correspondence he has had with J&J. I know there are other surgeons out there who are genuinely committed to help their patients, I implore you to please don’t be afraid to speak out, educate your colleagues if you have to, but please don’t allow these medical device companies to harm any more patients!

Well, tomorrow is Monday, make sure that you all start the week with new determination, look at the experiences of all those who have suffered through this and continue to fight for the justice we all deserve, for the sake of yourself and everyone who cares for you please look after your health (or what’s left of it in some of our cases) and as Bob, Howard or myself will continue to tell you, this can not ever be allowed to happen to another human ever again, join the fight and make sure that all those guilty parties receive what is coming to them! Have a (hopefully) not too uncomfortable week!!

Stuart Cain