Could Ceramic Hip Implants Replace All-Metal Hip Implants?

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A German pharmaceutical company says it has developed a ceramic artificial hip which is just as effective and much safer than the all-metal alternative.

Fraunhofer IKTS also says patients better tolerate its ceramic hip implants. “The ceramic resurfacing prosthesis enables bone-preserving endoprosthetic reconstruction of the hip joint,” remarked Project Manager Martina Johannes. In other words, ceramic implants work with the patient’s remaining bone mass, so there is less wear-and-tear on the implant itself. zirconium dioxide and aluminum oxide, as opposed to metallic components, are the primary ceramic ingredients. 

Johannes predicts that ceramic artificial hips could significantly improve the prognosis for patients over 70 who need hip implants.

Hip Implant Defects

Legally, manufacturers are strictly liable for the damage their defective products cause. Negligence, or the lack thereof, is usually irrelevant, at least for liability purposes. Dangerous products could injure so many people, and most companies have such vast resources, that a simple negligence standard is not high enough to protect victims. Generally, there are two types of product defects. Either one could apply to defective hip implants.

  • Design Defect: Hip implant engineers apparently did not think this problem all the way through. The hip is a cup-and-ball joint. As the all-metal parts grind against each other, microscopic metal fragments are released into the bloodstream. These fragments accumulate and cause metallosis, or metal poisoning. Additionally, the worn-down implants are prone to premature breaking and failure.
  • Manufacturing Defect: To save money, some manufacturers import cheap metal parts from China and elsewhere which have high levels of chromium and other dangerous heavy metals. As a result, even if the device itself is safe, these patients could become metallosis victims.

Negligence, or more precisely recklessness, could be relevant during the damages portion of a trial. If there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk, additional punitive damages are available. The knowledge of an elevated risk and the failure to warn consumers of this risk is certainly evidence that the company put profits before people.

Resolving Hip Implant Claims

Most civil claims, including hip implant claims, settle out of court. These settlements hasten the outcome of the case and give the parties more control over the outcome.

If liability is reasonably clear, many personal injury claims settle almost immediately. But there is usually some question as to liability. For example, many hip implant manufacturers claim that the victims exceeded the design specifications. Specifically, hip implants usually work well if people are relatively inactive. The more active a person is, the quicker these implants degrade.

So, if disputes persist, many judges refer these matters to mediation. A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated St. Louis personal injury lawyer, meets with both sides and tries to facilitate a settlement. Both parties have a legal duty to negotiate in good faith. They must be willing to compromise to get a deal done. As a result, mediation is usually successful.

Defective all-metal artificial hips often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced dangerous device attorney in St. Louis, contact Schultz & Myers, Personal Injury Lawyers. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these matters. 

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