B.C. man launches class-action lawsuit over hip implant
Published Saturday, August 31, 2019 10:11PM EDT
A proposed class-action lawsuit has been launched on behalf of Canadian patients with a particular type of metal-based hip implant that the lead plaintiff says led to high levels of toxic compounds in his body and triggered a litany of debilitating symptoms.
David Goldsmith from Radium Hot Springs, B.C. received a hip implant in 2009 in hopes of improving his quality of life. The metal-on-polyethylene hip replacement is widely used in Canada and is approved by Health Canada.
But over the next 10 years, he says his implant dislocated several times, caused him pain and left him with a number of unusual symptoms.
"I was experiencing vertigo, I was experiencing balance issues, I was experiencing skin infections that I wouldn't normally experience," Goldsmith told CTV News.
Goldsmith visited his doctor, who had a theory. He suspected Goldsmith's implant was breaking down inside his body and shedding metal debris into the tissue around his hip and his bloodstream. The process is known as metallosis, and it has been recorded before in patients with metal-on-metal prostheses.
Blood tests confirmed the doctor's suspicions. Chromium levels in Goldsmith's system were eight times higher than normal. His cobalt levels were ten times higher than average.
Last December, Goldsmith underwent surgery to have the device replaced. Now, he's launching a proposed class-action suit against the device's American manufacturer, Zimmer Biomet.
"I think the company should be punished for having brought these things to the market," he said.
The proposed class action, which has not yet been approved, covers anyone in Canada with a metal-on-polyethylene hip implant system "consisting of Zimmer M/L Taper Hip Prosthesis, and Zimmer Versys Hip System or any of the components referenced herein which are manufactured by the Defendants," according to the claim.
In a statement to CTV News, the company refused to comment.
"We do not comment on litigation," the company said.
But complications linked to metal-on-polyethylene implants aren't common in Canada, according to Dr. Bas Masri, the head of orthopaedics at the University of British Columbia.
"Even though it's rare, we don't really understand very well as to who is at risk," he said.
Masri said stories like Goldsmith's are rare and that Canadians with similar implants shouldn't react in fear.
"My biggest concern is that people will start to be worried and concerned that their hips are failing -- their hips are not failing. If they are doing well, they are going to continue to do well and they don't need to worry about it," he said.
It's not the first time the company's hip implants have been accused of problems. In 2017, a judge in New Mexico awarded a man with a Zimmer hip implant $2 million after he suffered similar injuries linked to metallosis.