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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

What to know before knee replacements

Pushpa Girimaji, Hindustan Times   March 09, 2013
First Published: 23:03 IST(9/3/2013) | Last Updated: 23:06 IST(9/3/2013)

Undergoing knee replacement surgery?  I would suggest that you first ask your doctors about the brand as well as the specific model of the implant they are going to use.

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Next, do a Google search of the implant and its manufacturer. You will be surprised at the number of these devices that have been recalled in the United States and also the number of class action suits filed by consumers there seeking compensation for the failure of the implant or the suffering caused by defective implants. These are all mostly brands sold worldwide and you will have to make sure that your doctor is not using any of those.

In fact, if the implant mentioned by your doctors happens to be one of those found to be faulty or on the recall list, you must confront them with this information and question their decision. 

All those who have had an unsuccessful knee replacement surgery or have had to have a revision surgery too need to consider whether it is the result of a defective knee implant, in which case, you can file a complaint for compensation against the manufacturer, seeking costs of medical expenses, rehabilitation, loss of income, permanent disability, besides physical and mental pain and anguish. In addition, you can seek costs of litigation and punitive damages, particularly if the company sold those devices even after knowing about their failure.

Seema Vadhera: My mother was admitted to a well-known private hospital on September 12 last year for knee implant surgery on both the knees at a cost of Rs. 3,79,500. Two days later, we were informed by the two surgeons who operated on her that the surgery was successful and on September 18, she was made to walk too. But the next day, when she was taken to physiotherapy, she could not lift her left leg and the doctors said they needed to do a re-surgery for some repairs and this was done and she was discharged on September 22.

But on October 8, she had to be operated upon again for a fracture in the right leg, which required inserting a plate. The bill was R1,45,366. She was advised bed rest for two months. Again, we were told in December that there is a fracture in the left leg and a knee re-implant needs to be done and would cost around R3 lakh. Before the surgery, she was independent, took care of the house and went for walks. After surgery, she is bedridden and totally dependent and under a lot of mental and physical stress. We all strongly feel that the doctors have erred and there has to be some accountability. We need your guidance.

Your mother’s problem could be caused by a defective implant or it could be the result of the surgeons’ negligence. Or from what you describe, it could be both. First and foremost, you need to find out about the implants used by the doctors and check whether these implants had some problems. Then the manufacturer too, becomes liable.

Suppose there is no problem with the implant but only with the way the surgery was done, then you will have to file the complaint against only the doctors (and the hospital). In any complaint of medical negligence, it is not adequate to show the failure of the surgery.

You have to show that such a failure happened on account of the negligence of the doctors or the paramedical staff, as the case may be. So get all the medical records, consult experts, get their views, check the implants and then file your complaint accordingly before the consumer court.


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