Tort Tuesday: Class action certified in Nova Scotia for faulty hip replacements

doctor examining patient
doctor examining elderly patient's hip pain by iStock/Getty Images.

You get a hip replacement. They tell you the implant will last between 15 to 25 years. Two years after the surgery, to your complete surprise and disappointment, the implant fractures and exposes you to a whole new host of problems.

Nova Scotia has certified a class action lawsuit against a U.S.-based medical equipment company — Wright Medical — on allegations that the company did not disclose a high number of its implants were failing and harming patients.

The class representative — Kenneth Taylor — says his left hip was replaced with a Wright Medical implant system due to osteoarthritis but the implant failed after only two years. Another member of the class action — Raymond Wagner — says his implant broke down two and a half years after it was put in and now he’s left with a continuous limp.

The statement of claim alleges replacement hips were expected to last between 15 to 25 years. A 2009 report claimed 11.2 percent of Wright Medical implants failed at the three-year interval. The class action alleges the company knew about this and did not disclose it. Wright Medical has not commented but plans to appeal the certification decision.

Ontario hospital cabs patient with memory loss to unidentified address

In other medical mishap news, an Ontario hospital discharged a patient with significant memory loss by sending him to an unconfirmed address.

Naveed Ahmed —a resident of Lloydminster, Alberta — was visiting Ontario when he got into a motorcycle accident. He did not remember much about the crash when he woke up at the Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga.

He was discharged after only seven hours even though he had a concussion, a broken ankle, a torn muscle, and serious scratches on his legs and arms. He was in shock and could not remember things except for an address in Brampton not far from the hospital.

He was discharged, put in a taxi, and sent to the unverified Brampton address.

His injuries were so bad that he couldn’t even sign his release papers upon discharge. Yet, the hospital sent him on his way. He hasn’t sued the hospital but such incidents may easily constitute a claim for negligence.

The hospital hasn’t commented other than providing the decision to discharge patients is always based on medical reasons, never financial.

A researcher with the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions blames inadequate funding for the hospitals’ enthusiasm to get people out fast.

Nunavut community wants top court to rule on seismic testing

Now onto the beautiful North and the struggle to keep oil giants away from it.

The Nunavut hamlet of Clyde River has filed an application to bring their case before the Supreme Court. They want seismic testing by oil companies stopped.

Seismic testing involves the use of air guns to look for oil and gas resources. The process creates very loud noises that Inuit fear will scare off or kill marine mammals, which they rely upon as a significant food source.

The federal Board of Energy issued a permit to a group of three oil companies to run seismic testing up and down Baffin Island. The hamlet wanted this decision judicially reviewed asserting the board had not fulfilled its duty to consult them before granting the permit. The Federal Court of Appeal, however, denied them the review. Now the Inuit of Clyde River are left with no choice but to resort to the top court.

To be able to argue their side before the top court, the hamlet must satisfy the SCC that the issue in this case concerns national interests and that the Federal Court was wrong in denying a judicial review. The hamlet feels seismic testing is indeed a matter of national concern as it deals with environmental damage and food scarcity.

In order to argue an appeal before the SCC, parties must request for leave to appeal to the top court. The SCC will only hear cases that are granted leave first.

The lawyer for the hamlet is concerned if the SCC denies the application to leave, the testing will commence and the Federal Court’s decision will be treated as a precedent. This is bad news for future cases where no meaningful consultation is undertaken between federal agencies and affected Aboriginal communities.

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