Wednesday 20 November 2019

Farmer (79) claims he was fitted with an allegedly defective hip implant

Ann O'Loughlin

A 79-YEAR-OLD farmer has brought a legal action claiming he was fitted with an allegedly defective hip implant.

Patrick Walsh from Co Kilkenny has sued DePuy International Ltd, of Leeds, England.

His barrister told the High Court the metal on metal contact between the components of the DePuy hip replacement parts meant metallic flakes went in to the blood stream.

At one stage the levels of chromium and cobalt in Mr Walsh's  blood were "at a critical level," counsel said.

Mr Walsh has claimed that DePuy knew, or ought to have known, of the alleged dangerous defect inherent in the product prior to his operation on October 1, 2007 and should have discontinued the use of the product prior to that date.

He has also claimed there was an alleged failure to warn adequately or at all of the risks associated with its hip implants.

DePuy has denied all the claims and contended that the replacement hip was not defective.  It also says that, when the product was used, it was in accordance with the approved level of scientific research at the time.

Mr Walsh has also lodged a claim for aggravated damages claiming the product should not have been used on him when, it was claimed, DePuy knew it had distinct problems which required intervention.  He also says there was also a delay in treating him and he only had revision surgery after he went for a second opinion privately.

Opening his case, Pat Treacy SC, said the "metal on metal contact"  meant cobalt and chromium ions were released in to the bloodstream and there can be an adverse reaction to the metal debris such as blood poisoning and inflammation of tissue.

DePuy, counsel said, recalled the product on August 27, 2010, and a clinic was set up for those who had got the metal type hip implants. 

When Mr Walsh was recalled, he was showing no signs or symptoms associated with an adverse reaction but, on testing,  his cobalt levels were 13 times over the normal and his chromium levels were seven times what they should have been, counsel said.

An MRI Scan in June 2011 showed a collection of fluid behind the implant  and Mr Walsh also began to suffer other symptoms such as clicking and clunking of the hip joint and tiredness.

Counsel said Mr Walsh's cobalt and chromium levels continued to rise and by  August 2012 were at " a critical level."

Mr Walsh told the court he first had a hip replacement at the  Lourdes Orthopaedic Hospital, Kilkenny in October 2007 because he had been having hip trouble for five years.

He said it was six months before he was back on his feet and he was called to the hip recall clinic in 2010.

He said he was very worried when he heard of the levels of chromium and cobalt in his blood as he had read somewhere it could be a cause of cancer.

The case continues before Mr Justice Kevin Cross.

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