They exist for cars and electronics, now a consumer group is pushing for warranties on hip and knee replacement devices. Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, is asking implant manufacturers to provide warranties that would cover the cost of replacing a hip or knee implant if it fails to work correctly because of a defect.
Defects aren’t rare. According to data from the Food and Drug Administration, every major manufacturer of hip and knee implants has issued a voluntary recall of defective devices over the last 10 years. That includes the recall of Johnson & Johnson DePuy ASR, Stryker Rejuvenate, and Stryker ABG II metal-on-metal hip implants.
Consumers Union says it is pushing manufacturers to offer warranties because close to 1.2 million hip and knee replacement surgeries are performed each year in the United States. And as Baby Boomers age, the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery estimates that number could reach 4 million by 2030; half of those people will be under the age of 65.
That’s why Consumers Union says warranties are now more important than ever since patients will need their devices to last longer. Many people nowadays who have hip or knee replacements intend to remain active for years or even decades to come. Warranties would allow patients to know the expected lifespan of the device before making a decision about surgery.
According to the journal Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research, patients, private insurance companies and Medicare bear the brunt of the cost of revision surgery when an implant goes bad. Consumers Union is asking manufacturers to use warranties as a way to pay their share of the cost.
In a report issued by Consumers Union as part of its Safe Patient Project, some of the group’s recommendations for hip and knee implant warranties include:
- Cover the implant for a specified period of time
- Cover the full costs of replacing the flawed device, including the device, surgeon and
hospital costs as well as the related patient out of pocket costs.
- Establish a clear system for patients to use, including a toll-free number and a
registration number to track the claims process, with physicians charging the device
company, not the patient
- Does not limit or eliminate a patient’s right to sue if they use the warranty