Last month I discussed the recent recall of the ASR hip replacement products manufactured by Depuy Orthopedics.  With over 90,000 of these medical implants sold, this is a tremendous issue that will affect many people.  These defective implants can result in significant injuries and damages to the individuals using them. 

How will Depuy treat the patients who underwent these transplants and now face some difficult decisions?  Depuy’s past conduct should provide much cause for concern.  In May, a former Depuy executive pled guilty to providing some $7 Million in bribes to doctors in Greece in an effort to persuade them to use the company’s products.  In 2007, Depuy paid $84.7 Million to settle civil and criminal probes by the U.S. Department of Justice involving allegations of kickbacks to surgeons in an effort to get them to use the company’s orthopedic devices.  Medical device manufacturers, like Depuy, can exercise significant financial influence without simply paying physicians directly.  The industry routinely provides fellowships, sponsors seminar trips, and utilizes means of indirect financial incentives to hospitals and surgeons.

Most physicians care deeply about their patients.  If you receive a recall letter and have a supportive physician, your physician should discuss the issues with you and conduct any needed tests.  Some supportive physicians are actually encouraging their patients to seek legal representation.  If you don’t have a supportive physician, seek one immediately.

Should you sign the documents Depuy may have provided your physician?  Definitely not.  It appears there may be different versions of these documents.  However, they will allow Depuy to gather all your medical records and, perhaps, the hip device itself.  This would serve simply to help Depuy prepare its defense at your expense.