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When your implant is recalled

Implants become part of you. Virtually everyone expects a hip replacement, for example, to last decades longer than they last themselves. So, when a recall is issued, how do you return it to the manufacturer? Who would pay for the surgery? How could you trust the new product put in its place?

And you surely have additional questions if you are, or know, one of the many patients whose medical procedures, pain, suffering or, in some cases, deaths trigger the recall.

Hip replacements and breast implants

When first introduced about 15 years ago, metal-on-metal hip replacements where hailed as revolutionary breakthroughs. In the last several years, enormous settlements have been paid to patients with certain hip replacements made by a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. This spring, the company agreed to pay $1 billion to about 6,000 patients who had the replacements taken out due to debilitating effects from the products.

This summer, particular makes of textured breast implants and tissue expanders were recalled by Allergan. Experts linked the products to 33 deaths and a higher risk of BIA-ALCL, a type of a cancer of the immune system. Textured breast implants make up about 10% of the implants on the market, and the recalled implants represent about 5% of textured breast implants. Though recalled worldwide in July, France banned them back in December of last year. Multiple lawsuits are now being filed.

Removing the implants and paying for removal

In the hip and breast implant cases, doctors and the FDA recommend not removing the recalled products unless you show symptoms. In the still-evolving breast implant case, that recommendation might change. Talk to your doctor.

It’s disturbing to have a product inside you, knowing it carries debilitating or even fatal risk. However, implanting and hips and removing breast implants are always significant surgeries. The doctor’s oath to “do no harm” means recommending you wait, if possible, until signs demand otherwise. Again, talk to your doctor.

In the case of the breast implants, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons calls for insurance companies to cover all costs related to the recalls. After all, an implant causing medical problems is itself a medical problem. Talk to your insurance provider.

However, doctors and insurers are unlikely to recommend other ways to seek reimbursement or compensation for your surgeries or suffering. They can’t give legal advice or speculate about your prospects for filing suit or joining a class action. If you think you’ve been affected by a defective medical device or pharmaceutical, consider a consulting an experienced attorney.

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