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Consumers Union: Manufacturers Should Warranty Knees and Hips

Consumers Union Safe Patient project logo 218Your big screen television and new car comes with a warranty- why not the most important medical purchase you will make in your life?

Consumers Union, an arm of Consumer Reports, has come up with a novel and common sense approach. Manufacturers of medical devices should warranty their products. They claim they are safe and effective – so why not stand by their work?

Makes sense doesn’t it?

To fail to do so means that the public, doctors and hospitals carry the burden when a medical device goes wrong – and they do – especially the recent generation of metal-on-metal hips which have been shown to fail far short of their 15 year expected life span.  Not only does the patient lose viable bone, muscle and tissue during a revision surgery, but they are out thousands of dollars. And that’s if they can pay.  The public picks up the rest of the cost through higher medical bills and insurance.

Lisa McGiffert of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project reminds us that most medical devices were marketed through the 510(k) process which is a wink and a nod to safety.

“Patients have a right to know how long medical device manufacturers are willing to stand by their products,” she says.

The letter will go out to six manufacturers and suggest a 20-year warranty period. The recipients include Biomet, DePuy, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, Wright Technologies and Zimmer.

Two types of hip replacements

Two types of hip replacements

Not only would the warranty cover the very expensive cost of revision surgery, but it would encourage manufacturers to think about safety before a device is marketed, knowing the real cost would be borne by the company if there is a defect or failure.

With the aging Baby Boomer population expected to make use of 4 million hip and knee implants by the year 2030, the timing is critical.

If you agree, Consumers Union is making it easy for you to sign the letter which will go to the companies  here. 

3 Comments

  1. Jane Akre, thank you for posting this CU petition. As you know, much of the devastating harm from failed implantable medical devices is preventable. Profit incentives drive the aggressive marketing of these devices and our current regulatory system obscures value information from the public and the patients that require this information for true informed consent. Surgical mesh patients can confidently sign their names to this petition that was crafted by Consumers Union to reflect the consensus of patients and advocates such as yourselves. We all want safer and more effective implanted medical devices. Asking the manufacturer to provide a warranty (just like you expect on less invasive consumer goods) is logical and fair. Your voice is needed! Please sign this now and forward the link and encourage others to do the same! Thank you.

  2. Hope Pagano says:

    Simple yet Genius ! Warranty and guarantee like all other consumer products. Genius.

    The only problem is the dreaded recall, as replacing a faulty seat belt is far less complicated and invasive as explant surgery.

    Part & labor not included.

  3. George says:

    Joleen and Hope,

    I understand the need to find a solution from the “consumer” stand point, but isn’t that where we are today?

    The surgeons are the consumers and the patients are just a vehicle to carry the item they have bought. Our “warranty” as humans in need of care is the complication rate, no item is 100% perfect and manufactures warranties are insured so the financial burden is negligible to them. Right now the medical literature for mesh complication rates ranges from 10% to 40%, and the medicos claim that mesh of any design is ok and the complication rate is caused by the patient lifestyle – those that are obese, smoke, and drink alcohol.

    Before you respond how evil I am to provide a counter statement to the consumer view of health care I just can not see this idea having any positive change. More paperwork is not the answer – the litigation probably will not promote change either, the awards are a less then 1 cent on the dollar for the posted profits of these corporations.

    The best avenue is through the federal political process and regulations in place. We just slowed down the military complex bombing Syria through this process.

    Remember we are the only technology advanced culture that makes a profit off heath care and education systems – which are very much related to the glee of these profit mongering corporations. G

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