Framing the failure of medical implants: Media representations of the ASR hip replacements in the UK

Gregory Maniatopoulos, Clare Hopkins, Thomas J. Joyce, Katie Brittain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: During the twentieth century, hip replacement became one of the most popular and successful operations. In the 1990s, a new type of hip replacement namely the metal-on-metal hip resurfacing was developed. This paper draws on one of the available implants, namely the DePuy Orthopaedics’ Articular Surface Replacement (ASR) hip system which was withdrawn from the market because of higher than expected rates of failure. It examines media representations on the failure of the ASR metal-on-metal hip replacement device and its subsequent withdrawal from the market. Methods: Drawing on content analysis this paper explores how systemic failure of the medical implant was framed and performed by press media in the UK. Results: Two narratives were particularly important in framing press media coverage of the ASR case: the role of patients as passive recipients of care and a distinction between health and disability identities as related to how individuals’ narratives about the past shaped their sense of present and future. In all cases, the voice of the orthopaedic surgeons responsible for the selection and implantation of the ASR devices remains silent. Conclusions: Press media coverage of medically induced harm in the UK is significantly less common than coverage of any other patient safety issues and public health debates. This study aims to contribute to the evidence base on how public discourse on medically induced harm becomes framed through the reported experiences of individuals in press media and also how this process influences the legitimacy of various solutions to medical errors or unanticipated outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-527
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Expectations
Issue number3
Early online date19 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


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