Zimmer Hip Replacement Problems | Zimmer Surgeon Speaks

Zimmer Hip Replacement Problems: A Surgeon Sounds the Alarm

Staff Writer | June 21st, 2011

Zimmer hip litigation taking place in a New Jersey court can be traced back to a single letter that landed in the mailboxes of the best orthopedic surgeons in the United States.

The letter was written on April 22, 3008 by Dr. Larry Dorr, himself one of the top orthopedic surgeons in the country. The subject was the Durom Cup, a hip replacement component made by Zimmer Inc. that Dr. Dorr was certain caused serious Zimmer hip replacement problems in patients who had the device implanted.

Dr. Dorr made this determination based on the results of 165 total hip replacement surgeries he performed between 2006 and 2008. After two years, 14 out of 165 patients required revision surgery. The Durom Cup is marketed to last 15 years or more.

Zimmer hip replacement problems blamed on fixation

“We do not believe the fixation is good on these cups,” he wrote. “We have notified Zimmer. The FDA has been notified and we will notify them of our continued revisions. The company does not believe it should pull the cup from the market so I am notifying all of my colleagues of our failure rate with this cup.”

Dr. Dorr stopped implanting patients with the Durom Cup. Many of his colleagues did the same. But by April 22, 2008, the day he wrote the letter, approximately 12,000 patients had already been implanted with the Durom Cup. Many of those patients were assured that the pain they felt was a normal part of healing from total hip replacement surgery. In most cases, Zimmer hip replacement problems can’t be properly diagnosed until 1 year has elapsed since surgery.

Zimmer responds to Dorr’s concerns with temporary “hip recall”

Zimmer finally responded two months after Dr. Dorr wrote the letter. In June 2008, the company suspended sales of the Durom Cup, attributing Zimmer hip replacement problems to inadequate surgical instructions packaged with the device. Zimmer remarketed the Durom Cup with updated instructions in fall 2008.

It was about then that a number of Durom Cup recipients filed a Zimmer hip lawsuit. Those lawsuits were soon consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL), a legal process similar to class action, and today several of them are moving forward in a New Jersey court.

Zimmer settlement fund created

Some have already been settled. Zimmer has set aside nearly $150 million to settle claims with patients affected by the Durom Cup Zimmer hip replacement recall. A number of those patients reached undisclosed settlements in mediation ordered by the federal judge overseeing the litigation.

After five years on the market, the Durom Cup may finally go on trial. In May, a judge allowed sides to begin taking depositions in Zimmer hip litigation. A trial could begin later this year. Its outcome may put to rest any controversy about whether the device ever should have been put on the market in the first place.