Medical manufacturer Smith & Nephew create a wide range of metal-on-metal hip implants, including the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) system. This system, first approved by the FDA in 2006, helps in the hip resurfacing procedure surgeons use in hip replacement surgery. Smith & Nephew also indicate the system can be used as an alternative to total hip replacement.
However, in 2015 Smith & Nephew recalled the BHR system due to high rates of failure and implant complications that required patients to undergo revision surgery. Every year thousands of individuals undergo hip replacement surgery, so numerous patients could be at risk of serious complications from their faulty BHR system. Below, we explore the claims brought against Smith & Nephew over the BHR system and complications caused by the recalled metal-on-metal hip implants.
As previously indicated, the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing (BHR) system was first approved for use in the U.S. in 2006. The BHR system consists of two parts: the femoral head (ball) and the acetabular component (socket). Each piece of the BHR system is composed of a mixed metal known as cobalt-chromium alloy.
During hip resurfacing procedures, surgeons trim the ball-shaped bone at the top of the thigh and resurface this area with a smooth metal covering. Then, surgeons remove the damaged bone and cartilage within the hip socket and replace it with a metal shell. Surgeons widely used the BHR system from 2006 up until its recall in June 2015.
However, lawsuits filed across the U.S. allege the BHR’s metal-on-metal design caused severe injuries. Claims indicate that the grinding of each metal part against one another caused cobalt and chromium ions to flake off the implants and seep into surrounding tissues and the bloodstream.
Metal particles in the system can lead to a condition known as metallosis, a severe form of metal poisoning. Metallosis can cause a number of serious side effects, including headaches, pain, anxiety, skin rashes, and irritability.
In addition to metallosis, many product liability claims filed over the BHR system claim these hip implants caused complications like bone fractures, dislocation or device loosening, and early implant failure. Some claims even indicate the BHR system never received proper approval for sale from federal regulators, resulting in a dangerously defective device to be implanted in patients without proper warning.
Global indications of problems with the BHR system first arose in 2012, when Hong Kong issued a warning regarding the system. Researchers found the BHR system was linked to a higher-than-normal failure rate, which resulted in many patients needing revision surgery. In 2014, Smith & Nephew released a statement indicating they were changing the BHR system’s instructions for use due to “performance data.” However, this was quickly followed by a total BHR system recall one year later in June 2015.
Due to the increasing lawsuits against Smith & Nephew over complications with the BHR system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) consolidated all BHR injury lawsuits as part of an MDL in 2017. The JPML centralized pretrial proceedings before Judge Catherine C. Blake in the District of Maryland to reduce duplicate discovery and avoid conflicting pretrial rulings that could further delay BHR system victims from holding Smith & Nephew accountable in court. Smith & Nephew attempted to dismiss the MDL entirely over time limits but failed to do so.
Allegations frequently brought forward in the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing System litigation indicate Smith & Nephew knowingly concealed the BHR system’s dangerous defects in order to maximize profits. As of 2020, over 650 BHR hip implant lawsuits have been filed against Smith & Nephew over the defective metal-on-metal system.
If you are concerned that your BHR implant may be failing and the cause of your injuries, reach out to us today. We offer free, no-obligation case evaluations to see if you may be the victim of a defective Smith & Nephew hip implant. The award-winning attorneys at the McGartland Law Firm fight for your right to compensation for your injuries, and we aren’t afraid to tackle the legal giants to do so. Know when you partner with our firm, you partner with integrity and efficiency. Reach out to us today at (866) 832-9300.