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Non-Profit Group Says Parts For Hip And Knee Replacements Should Be Covered

CBS-TV New York—February 28, 2014

Just about everything you buy comes with a warranty, including appliances and electronics.

But what about the things you buy for your body like a hip or knee replacement?

Now there are efforts being made to protect you after surgery.

When a car breaks or a computer fails the manufacturer is typically liable under the product warranty. But when Diana Boernstein’s newly implanted hip gave out she had no such written assurance.

“It was constantly painful, sitting, standing or lying,” Boernstein said.

Boernstein is one of more than 1 million people who receive hip and knee implants each year.

Yet, of the major implant manufacturers only one offers any sort of warranty, and only on a partial knee implant.

“We think that knee and hip replacements need warranties because it is a critical product that people buy,” said Lisa McGiffert, director of Consumer Union’s Safe Patient Project.

The non-profit Consumers Union wants manufacturers to provide a 20-year warranty, entitling patients to have defective devices replaced at no cost.

But orthopedic surgeon Dr. Mathias Bostrom of Hospital for Special Surgery said you can’t equate a dishwasher to a hip implant.

“As much as I want to hold companies responsible, I think it’s much more complicated than another consumer good that we expect warranties from,” Dr. Bostrom said. “You’re putting the implant in a patient. Some patients are very compliant and actually follow the surgeon’s instructions and sometimes they actually don’t.”

Bostrom said a hip or knee implant failure could be the result of any number of things — not just a faulty device.

View the segment at cbslocal.com.

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