How Do I Know If I Have a Exactech Claim?
STEP 1: Obtain Medical Records
We have written extensively about the different types of defects in certain Exactech products, and the various causes of those defects, particularly to the polyethylene (plastic) liners of those products. Regardless of whether you are dealing with a hip, knee or ankle replacement, the first step in figuring out whether you have a potential claim is to confirm which type of Exactech product (and the components of that product) that you had implanted.
There is a simple way to do that. Whenever doctors use a medical implant or device, like a hip, knee or ankle implant, it comes in its own shiny new box (as you can imagine, a lot of marketing goes into the packaging of these extremely expensive products).
The box has stickers on it that specifically identify everything about the product (manufacturer, model, lot number, etc.). The surgeon takes the sticker off of the box and attaches it to the Operative Report. Consisting of only a few pages, the Operative Report is a basic summary of your joint replacement operation. The stickers are usually attached to the last page of the Operative Report. You can go to your medical provider and ask for your Operative Report (this should only take a couple of days to receive), or you can retain an attorney to formally request your operative report (this will take a few weeks).
Helpful hint: medical providers are only responsible for keeping records for a certain amount of time. If your operation happened a relatively long time ago (longer than seven years), it will be much more difficult to get the records.
STEP 2: Identify the Exactech Implant
Now that you have a copy of your Operative Report with the identifying stickers, you need to compare your Exactech implant to a list of Exactech products that are recalled, alleged to be defective or are otherwise part of the pending nationwide litigations.
Helpful hint: we have a list posted here – Types of Exactech products involved in litigation.
Again, some of the recalled product liners are subject to premature deterioration and failure because the packaging exposed them to oxygen, and some of the (hip) liners just did not last as long as they should have. As these products have been used in tens of thousands of procedures over many years, this obviously caused, and continues to cause, serious problems in patients – including osteolysis, or bone loss.
Exactech has a website that allows you to search your implant in its recalled products list. The website also contains the recall and warning letters that should have been sent to your doctors. Finally, the Exactech website encourages patients to submit claims for defective implants through a company hired by Exactech, named Broadspire.
Last Helpful hint: For obvious reasons, you probably want to speak with an attorney before just filing a claim directly through Exactech’s own website.
STEP 3: Is Revision Necessary?
Now that you have identified your Exactech implant as one of the products that are alleged to be defective and are part of the pending nationwide litigations, you have to be able to show you suffered damages that require a revision of the implant. In this case, “revision” basically means that a doctor has found it necessary to go in and try to fix or replace part or all of your defective Exactech implant.
Unfortunately, every surgical procedure has a risk of complications. Just experiencing an injury, such as an infection at the surgical site, is not uncommon and does not always mean that your injuries are attributable to a defective Exactech product. So, you will also have to be able to show that the failure of your implant was caused by the premature breakdown and failure of the plastic liner of the implant.
STEP 4: Contact an Attorney
Now that you have determined that you have a defective Exactech implant that required (or will require) revision, you will want to get some legal advice. Two things to keep in mind: 1) make sure to talk to a law firm that specializes in Exactech hip, knee and ankle litigation; and 2) do not wait – there are different deadlines and statutes of limitations that apply to your claim. Do your homework and research the firm you will be working with – there is a good chance it will not be the same lawyer that handled your last speeding ticket, or one of the 800 numbers that flash across your television screen late at night. Put this on the top of your pile of things to do. Only bad things can happen if you wait too long to pursue a claim.
As always, you can contact Stark & Stark to speak with one of our attorneys, free of charge, who can help assess any claims that you may have and to help you better understand the Exactech hip, knee and ankle settlement and lawsuit process.