Zimmer, the Indiana-based manufacturer of artificial joints, has recalled a key component of its Persona knee replacement system. Patients and their doctors have complained that the implant component comes loose, creating instability in the knee, ongoing pain, and the potential for further complications when patients have surgery to replace the knee implant.
Distressed patients are increasingly asking the legal system to award compensation for their suffering, anguish, expenses, and physical disabilities caused by the failed product. Although Zimmer recalled the component, a significant number of patients already have the Persona knee implant.
Patients who underwent knee replacement surgery should determine whether the surgeon used a Zimmer Persona product. If so, talking to a personal injury lawyer now will prepare you for problems that may arise in the future.
The Persona Knee Recall
The Persona knee implant is the newest in Zimmer’s line of knee replacement products. Zimmer touts the Persona implant as improving the technology used in its NexGen product line, although that claim is still being studied. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the Persona knee implant expedited approval because it was similar to the NexGen knee implant.
After Zimmer put more than 11,000 Persona knee implants on the market, it began to receive complaints that a particular component of the implant was coming loose long before the end of the implant’s projected ten to twenty year service life. As complaints to Zimmer about the defective component increased, Zimmer decided to recall the product. It did that by sending Urgent Medical Device Recall notices to the distributors who purchased the implant and to the surgeons and hospitals that might have the Persona knee implant on hand. The notice directed them to quarantine the component.
While Zimmer advised medical professionals and suppliers about the problem, it has been conspicuously quiet when it comes to warning patients. Curious patients who search the Zimmer website for the word “recall” will find only one page that even mentions the word. That page denies that the FDA ordered a recall of the NexGen implant. It says nothing about Zimmer’s voluntary recall of the Persona implant. Voluntary recalls often head off an FDA-ordered recall in an effort to contain liability for marketing a defective product.
Knees and Knee Implants
The knee joint makes it possible for your upper leg and your lower leg to move in different directions. If you did not have a knee joint, it would be difficult or impossible to walk, sit, kneel, squat, climb, or jump. Unfortunately, doing those things over the course of decades causes wear and tear on the knee. Degenerative diseases like arthritis (particularly osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) also cause damage to the knee that produces pain and swelling while reducing mobility.
Osteoarthritis causes cartilages in the knee to wear down. Cartilages are tough, rubbery tissues that prevent the bone in your upper leg (the femur) from grinding against the bones in your lower leg (the tibia and fibula) when you bend your knee. Together with fat pads, cartilage in your knee acts as a shock absorber that keeps your upper and lower leg bones from banging against each other. Loss of cartilage causes leg bones to become damaged when they make contact with each other inside the knee joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the immune system that attacks cartilage and ligaments. Ligaments are tissues that tie your leg bones together behind your kneecap (patella). Rheumatoid arthritis and other diseases can also cause your bones to soften. The knee joint is one of the parts of your body that is most susceptible to bone diseases.
Knee joints are also damaged when the knee twists violently or is forced to bend in the wrong direction. Car accidents, falls, and sports injuries are the most common causes of knee injuries. Broken or dislocated bones, as well as torn ligaments and tendons, are common knee injuries. Many injuries heal naturally or with the help of surgery, but they may leave the knee in a weakened condition. Over the course of time, it may become more difficult for knee injury victims to engage in normal activities like walking and climbing stairs.
Artificial knees help patients walk, sit, and climb stairs without pain. Knee implants replace knees that have been damaged by injury or disease and that cannot be surgically repaired. When a knee implant wears out and needs to be replaced, revision surgery is required. During a revision, all or part of the implant is replaced. Patients can usually use a knee implant for a decade or two before they need a revision.
Compensation for Persona Knee Implants
Revision surgery may be required much sooner for patients who received the Persona implant. When the defective component (known as the Trabecular Metal Tibial Plate) works loose, patients may experience a variety of symptoms, including pain when walking or sitting, swelling of the knee, and difficulty moving the knee. The loosened component can cause additional bone and tissue damage that may require new surgical repair in addition to replacement of the implant. Revision surgery almost always carries a greater risk of complications than the original replacement surgery.
Patients who endure pain and suffering, worry and mental anguish, a loss of mobility, medical and surgical expenses, and other losses as a result of the premature failure of the Persona knee implant may be entitled to compensation. More than a thousand lawsuits have already been filed against Zimmer on behalf of patients who received the Persona implant.
If you have a Persona knee implant, a personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case and help you decide whether you should pursue compensation. Since undue delay can cause you to lose valuable rights, you should not wait for pain to begin. The attorneys at Advocate Law Group have decades of experience handling product liability and personal injury claims. We work with leading product liability firms nationwide to help our clients obtain results. Contact us for a free case evaluation.