Smith & Nephew Birmingham Hip Lawsuit Filed Over Metal Poisoning

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By: Irvin Jackson | Published: September 20th, 2012

A California man has filed a product liability lawsuit against Smith & Nephew over its Birmingham metal-on-metal hip replacement system, alleging that metal particles shed from the implant poisoned him. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed by William Reilly and his wife Jill, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on September 12.

Reilly indicates that he received the Smith & Nephew Birmingham hip replacement on his left side in May 2007, and a blood test in October 2011 detected high levels of cobalt and chromium in his blood, which he alleges was caused by the defective design of the Birmingham hip system. As a result of the metal blood poisoning, Reilly’s doctor has recommended that he undergo hip revision surgery to remove the implant.

The Smith & Nephew Birmingham hip lawsuit accuses the manufacturer of negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, strict product liability, false representation and his wife is suing for loss of consortium.

Smith & Nephew Birmingham was First Metal-on-Metal Hip Implant

The Smith & Nephew Birmingham hip became the first metal-on-metal system approved in the United States, with other manufacturers soon following to introduce similar models, which have now been linked to an increased risk of failure and complications.

Metal-on-metal hip replacement systems are a type of artificial hip that use cobalt and chromium metal femoral heads, which rest in a metal acetabular cup.  Over the past decade, the design quickly grew in popularity, amid aggressive marketing by the manufacturers, which suggested that the components were stronger and more durable than traditional hip replacements.

In recent years, there has been increasing concerns about problems with metal-on-metal hip replacements, which have been found to loosen and fail prematurely, leading to thousands of recipients requiring revision surgery to have them replaced after developing metal blood poisoning, also known as metallosis.

Metal hip poisoning occurs when high levels of cobalt and chromium are released into the body as the metal parts rub against each other. These elevated metal blood levels have been linked to a number of health concerns, including soft tissue damage, nerve damage, development of tumors and a risk of the implant loosening within a few years after surgery.

In June 2012, a panel of FDA advisors reviewed the risk of blood poisoning from metal-on-metal hip replacements, concluding that they saw little, if any, benefit from using the systems. The panel recommended that anyone who has received a metal-on-metal hip replacement get some sort of imaging scan once a year to make sure the implant is still properly in position. In addition, any individuals experiencing pain or discomfort have been advised to obtain a blood test to look for signs of metal blood poisoning.

Metal Hip Problems Sparked Recalls and Lawsuits

National media attention on the safety and failure rates for metal-on-metal hip replacements increased in August 2010, when a recall was issued for DePuy ASR metal-on-metal hip systems after it was discovered that about one out of eight implants failed within five years, often resulting in the need for risky revision surgery.  Unfortunately, more than 93,000 of the DePuy ASR hip replacements were sold worldwide before the recall, with about 40,000 implanted in the United States.

Since that time, thousands of individuals have filed a DePuy ASR hip replacement lawsuit after their implant failed within a few years. Similar claims have also been brought over other metal-on-metal hips, including the DePuy Pinnacle hip, Wright Conserve hip and Biomet M2A-Magnum hip.

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There Is One Comment So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. I don’t understand why no one can help me! I had a BHR done that failed in less than 1.5 years. Following my revision, I have been unable to go back to my job because of the pain and weakness I have. I understand, fro the last attorney office I talked to, that since the Smith & Nephew components were not recalled, I have no case. Can anyone help?

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