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Medical device lawyer shocked by revelations about safety of bone cement

Medical device specialist calls for further research on the safety of bone cement

Some bone cements linked to toxic reaction

13 June 2014

A leading lawyer specialising in claims relating to defective medical devices has said she is shocked following revelations in the Daily Telegraph that 40 people could have died following hip operations on the NHS allegedly caused by a toxic reaction to the bone cement used.

According to the Telegraph, Sir Liam Donaldson, the former chief medical officer, and a team from Imperial College London, found that 62 people had died or suffered harm

Jill Paterson, a partner at the law firm Leigh Day and a member of the product liability team said:

"It is clear that this issue needs to be investigated further, and we hope that this research paves the way for an informed debate.  Patient safety must be paramount."

The paper claims that patient safety and drug watchdogs first raised the alarm about the cement in 2009, citing evidence that the cement could lead to high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia and heart attack but it continued to be used in hip operations.

The Telegraph reports that a total of 41 people died, 14 patients suffered a heart attack and were resuscitated, and seven suffered a “peri-arrest period”, where their condition became dangerously unstable.

In 55 out of the 62 cases the problem occurred within three minutes of the cement being applied.

Sir Liam said guidance that advised monitoring the cardiac health of patients before hip operations was being ignored.

“The orthopaedic surgery community seems to have concluded that the benefits of cement outweigh the risks,” he said.

“The NHS needs to look at when it is really necessary to use cement and when an operation might be successful without using it. In some countries they don’t use it at all, it varies a lot across the world but in Britain it has always been standard procedure.

“We want to see this whole question about the use of cement opened up again and further research and evaluation of the risks.”

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