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Doctor Files Suit Against Smith & Nephew

San Diego Chargers team doctor David Chao, M.D., has brought a lawsuit against Smith & Nephew. He claims that the company’s training method and faulty surgical scissors for its Birmingham Hip Resurfacing implant led to a failed surgery on Kathleen Adams in 2007, for which he is facing a malpractice lawsuit. Chao’s $2.2 million suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for Southern California. After her surgery, Adams sued Chao for the same amount and won in 2008.

According to court documents, Chao blames Smith & Nephew for instructing him and other surgeons “to push the tips of the scissors into tissue in a manner such that the surgeon did not have a view of the tips of the scissor tines (i.e., ‘blind’ cuts).”

According to the London, United Kingdom-based orthopedic device company, the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing system has been implanted in more than 125,000 patients globally. The system was designed using knowledge gained from first generation metal-on-metal (MoM) total hips, which have proven problematic over the years (though the metal-on-metal issue is not in question in this case). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a communication indicating that MoM hips may deposit metal wear particles into soft tissue as well as a patient’s blood stream. The Birmingham system—also a MoM implant—is described as “bone-conserving,” in that it’s not a total joint replacement.

Chao is an orthopedic surgeon and a sports medicine expert, and has practiced orthopedic surgery in San Diego, Calif., for 15 years at Oasis MSO Inc., a medical group practice. He is the head team physician for the Chargers, San Diego’s professional football team.

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