NFL Doctor Sues Smith & Nephew over Botched Hip Surgery

September 13, 2013

4436226247_370169ec52.jpgMetal-on-metal hip device lawyers at Pintas & Mullins affirm that the team physician for the NFL's San Francisco Chargers recently sued Smith & Nephew, the hip device manufacturer, after a medical malpractice lawsuit cost him $2.2 million. Dr. David Chao used a Smith & Nephew hip device during that botched surgery, and claims that the patient's injuries were caused by the defective device rather than his own negligence.

Dr. Chao claims that the injuries caused to his patients were the direct result of Smith & Nephew's inadequate training and defective surgical scissors for the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing implant. The patient underwent hip surgery in 2007, during which she suffered a lacerated femoral artery, vein and nerve. This caused her to walk with a limp and live with chronic pain.

It is worth noting that in that same year Chao was ordered to enroll in an ethics program and medical record-keeping class after an unrelated incident revealed he did not disclose a DUI conviction on state forms, as is required. The state medical board also filed a complaint against him regarding this matter, along with a $1,000 fine.

An arbitration panel ultimately awarded the hip patient $2.2 million, finding Chao negligent in this patient's care. The decision was unanimous, as the 54-year-old patient was clearly in pain, with prescriptions to take four different medications per day and walking with a permanent limp.

Chao now wants British manufacturer Smith & Nephew to pay for the settlement, claiming that it failed to properly train him on the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing device implantation procedure. He says the company trained him to push the scissor tip into tissue in such a way that cause the surgeon to lose sight of the scissor tines (also known as 'blind cuts,') which led to him lacerating his patient's artery.

He claimed that he exactly followed the company's training on the Birmingham Hip Resurfacing, and states that if Smith & Nephew had developed reasonably safe procedures and related surgical equipment, his patient would not have been harmed and he wouldn't have to pay her $2.2 million.

Since 1998, Chao had been named defendant in at least 20 medical malpractice lawsuits, many of them filed by patients suffering catastrophic injuries. Two separate juries found liable Chao liable for malpractice, negligence and fraud, awarding one former patient $460,000 and another $5.6 million. At least six other suits have ended with payments to patients for their injuries, though most of the amounts are undisclosed.

In 2010, DEA officials searched Chao's home after it was confirmed he had been writing illegal prescriptions to the former Charger's physician, leading to his dismissal and several lawsuits from former players. Many Charger's players alleged they were physically or permanently harmed by the physician, who preformed procedures while under the influence of narcotics. Federal authorities found over 100 prescriptions written by Chao in his home, listing himself as the patient.

Last year, in 2012, Smith & Nephew issued a warning on its Birmingham Hip Resurfacing implants, informing the FDA, physicians and patients on new data showing that the devices fail at much higher rates in patients than other hip devices. Metal-on-metal devices like the Birmingham can easily wear down in patients, and the constant movement and friction between the all metal components cause metal debris to release into the blood. This condition, known as metallosis, can cause tissue and bone death near the implant site, as well as toxic amounts of metal ions in the bloodstream.

Other metal-on-metal manufacturers, such as Stryker, Biomet and Johnson & Johnson, have issued similar warnings regarding their own hip implants. Johnson & Johnson recently announced that it was going to stop selling all-metal implants completely. Stryker has recalled nearly all of its metal implants, including the Rejuvenate and ABG II systems, after they were associated with severe and painful complications.

Smith & Nephew attorneys at Pintas & Mullins are currently reviewing, investigating and accepting cases of injuries caused by metal-on-metal hip device implants such as the Birmingham. If you or a loved one received a metal hip implant and suffered any type of complication, contact one of our skilled hip device lawyers to receive a free legal consultation. You have a variety of legal avenues available to you, and may be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering.