In the first three months of this year alone, global media has highlighted the tragic consequences of artificial joint failures. The Institution has therefore brought together the leading figures whose expertise was sought by BBC Newsnight and other media, for a ground-breaking event ‘Lessons learnt: preventing future artificial joint failures’ at One Birdcage Walk on Saturday 21 April, to share their knowledge and insight into the technical issues involved and consider the best way forward to improve patients’ lives in the future.
The total hip replacement was termed the ‘operation of the century’ and, over the last few years, many patients with impaired mobility were routinely advised by their orthopaedic surgeons that metal artificial hip joints were the best products ever and that after their operation, they would be as active and healthy as ever before. However, this has not happened. Since 2008, researchers like Dr Tom Joyce, Reader in Biotribology at Newcastle University have been at the forefront of raising the health issues associated with metal-on-metal hips, and in 2010, one of the manufacturers withdrew one of their metal-on-metal hip designs, though not before almost 100,000 had been implanted worldwide.
Since then, working hand-in-hand with orthopaedic colleagues and with key funding from the British Orthopaedic Association, Dr Joyce has continued through his publishing of scientific research papers to highlight the issues of metal-on-metal hips, and between 2011 and 2012, these findings have been publicised on Channel 4’s Dispatches, BBC’s The One Show and Newsnight, UK regional news broadcasts, RTE in Ireland, the Australian investigative programme Four Corners, and Danish television, as well as via articles in the Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and Sunday Times. As a result of this high profile global sharing of scientific findings, much of it in conjunction with the British Medical Journal, The Lancet this year has called for a ban on stemmed metal-on-metal hips, a Senate enquiry was held in Australia, while the Danish Orthopaedic Society recently announced that no more metal-on-metal hips should be fitted.
Around the world, however, thousands of people have metal-on-metal hips and are very worried about the long-term implications of having these artificial joints. There is a real need to hear the fears and concerns of these people, and at the same time to re-establish trust in medicine and trust in the professionals designing, manufacturing and regulating artificial joints.
It is to address this need that the Institution is hosting ‘Lessons learnt: preventing future artificial joint failures’ at One Birdcage Walk on Saturday 21 April.
This unique colloquium will bring together clinical practitioners, industry experts, patient groups, regulators, notifying bodies and learned societies to discuss major problems with orthopaedic joint replacements; the history of the problems; and how the many stakeholders should deal with these problems. In a neutral and transparent way, they will consider how the orthopaedic community might prevent problems from happening again and rebuild trust in joint replacements and the systems around them.
The Keynote Speaker is Dr Tom Joyce, while the other major speakers include:
- Deborah Cohen, the Investigations Editor, British Medical Journal who has collaborated on documentaries with the BBC, Channel 4 News and Dispatches, and has also reported for BBC Newsnight about metal on metal hips and regulation.
- Mr Antoni Nargol, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, University Hospital of North Tees, Stockton who will be considering: ‘Surgeons – voices unheard’ including why some surgeon whistleblowers were criticised by their peers.
- Dr Carl Heneghan, Director of the Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford who will be considering the role of regulatory data.
- Vesa Saikko, Senior Lecturer, School of Engineering, Aalto University who has focused on the development of methods and devices for the study of tribology of prosthetic joints and their materials.
- Mr David Langton, Orthopaedic Registrar, University Hospital of North Tees and Newcastle University who will outline the history of metal-on-metal research at North Tees Hospital and the implications for orthopaedics globally.
A unique feature of the event will be the chance to hear the experiences of patients. The Patient Voice session will be chaired by Dr Pauline McCormack, Research Associate at Newcastle University who has experience in helping to build meaningful relationships between patients and health professionals. The panel will feature Carol Holland, Sara Starkey, Ruth Smith, Chris Mounsey and Sheila Sunley talking about their experiences with failed metal-on-metal hip replacement. The panel sets out to make the real, every day experiences of these patients central to the event’s deliberations as delegates hear about the devastating impacts it can have on people’s health, their families, plus their social and work lives.
Sara Starkey, one of the patients who will be part of this panel, shared the tragic consequences of being fitted with DePuy metal-on-metal hips with Daily Telegraph readers earlier this year. Since surgery for a double hip replacement in 2007, 33 year old Sara has been in constant pain and has struggled to carry her baby daughter. Before her surgery, Miss Starkey loved to cycle and walk with her fiancé, but is now fearful for her future and has had to put wedding plans on hold. Extra weight during pregnancy added to the stress on Miss Starkey’s joints, and the physical demands of caring for her baby daughter are tough.
Summing up the unique importance of ‘Lessons learnt: preventing future artificial joint failures’, Dr Tom Joyce said: “This is a ground-breaking event. Issues surrounding metal-on-metal hips are of international importance, and on 21 April, we will be discussing them in depth. What is unique about the event is the wide range of views, insights and experiences; we have purposefully invited patients, engineers, researchers, orthopaedic surgeons, regulators and journalists to contribute to discussing solutions.”
“For me, it is crucial that we have patients there telling us their experiences. Unless we work collaboratively with patients and understand their needs, we are not doing our jobs.”
“We are committed to addressing questions about regulatory issues, orthopaedic experience and how some products may have come to market too soon. It is very important that no external sponsorship of this event was sought. The Institution offered a neutral, learned society environment for these important discussions so that we can try to get the best possible solutions.”
‘Lessons learnt: preventing future artificial joint failures’ takes place at One Birdcage Walk on Saturday 21 April. Register for this event today.