In just a few weeks, more than 58,000 consumers sent letters to the six largest hip and knee implant makers in the United States asking them to warranty their products!

Consumers Union is pushing for a warranty to improve the safety and quality of implants, and to make sure patients know how long their implant will last and what to do to if their device fails. In our request to company CEOs, we’re asking for a 20-year warranty and have outlined the terms of what a model guarantee should look like.

So far, we have received one detailed response from Smith & Nephew. We responded by addressing their concerns about providing warranties for hip and knee implants. To date, the five other companies have acknowledged receiving our request for a warranty, but haven’t provided any additional information.

Just like the cars and appliances we all buy, defective implants should carry a warranty, so the patient isn’t stuck with expense to replace it. Our in depth review of hip and knee implant recalls in the past decade has found that all the major manufacturers have recalled a product, or line of products, for defects.

When implants are defective, the cost for additional surgery and a replacement is now largely paid by patients or their insurance companies, and in the case of those patients on Medicare, taxpayers.  An estimated 18 percent of hip replacements, and 8 percent of knee replacements, in the U.S. are for revisions, and the cost for these procedures is likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

Already nearly 3,000 people have told us their experiences with hip and knee implants. While the majority are happy with their replacement, most were unaware that these devices in their body did not come with a warranty. And many were not provided with the maker or model of their implants. Without this basic information, it is difficult to determine if their device has been recalled or if problems have been reported to the FDA. And without warranty information, they do not know how to contact the company if they need a replacement device.

We’ve posted stories submitted by hip and knee patients on our website. Did you or anyone you know experience problems with a hip or knee implant? If so, we’d like you to share your story with us so we can better understand how patients are being treated. Check here for questions patients should ask before getting surgery.

if you haven’t sent your own message to implant makers asking for a warranty, you still can take action.

Thank you for joining this important consumer safety campaign!