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Consumer Group Says Hip and Knee Makers Should Offer Warranties

Consumers Union, the policy and action division of Consumer Reports, has launched a campaign calling on orthopedic hip and knee implant manufacturers to include warranties for defective devices.

“Medical device companies claim that current law provides adequate protection for patients and that their implants are dependable and safe,” Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project, said. “If that is the case, they should have no objection to offering warranties to back up those claims.Patients and taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for the cost of replacing devices when they fail.”

In letters sent to Biomet, DePuy Synthes, Smith & Nephew, Stryker, Wright Medical Technology and Zimmer, Consumers Union urged the companies to consider a 20-year warranty for hip and knee implants, and outlined the following terms a model warranty should follow:

• Cover the full cost of replacing the flawed device, including device, surgeon, hospital costs and related patient out-of-pocket costs;
• Establish a toll-free phone number and a registration number to track the claims process, with physicians charging the device company rather than patients;
• Do not eliminate a patient’s right to sue if they use a warranty;
• Provide patients with a full explanation if a warranty claim is denied and an appeals process for denials; and
• Do not disqualify patients if they have specific diseases or illnesses not related to the failure of the device.

Click here to read the Consumers Union's white paper.

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