Annual health conference comes to Lexington

A health conference Friday in Lexington will explore various patient safety issues, including the potential risks of joint replacement implants.

"Many people in their 40s and 50s are having these devices put in today, expecting them to last 30 or 40 years. But anything mechanical eventually fails," said Dr. Kevin Kavanagh, the conference coordinator.

The meeting also will focus on the new federal Sunshine Act, which requires public disclosure of payments to doctors by pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of medical devices.

Kavanagh said that medical devices like artificial joint implants offer advantages, but they can pose risks to patients. "They are largely unregulated, and many of them have had inadequate testing," he said.

Implants don't come with a guarantee, he said.

"You buy a toaster, you get a guarantee," Kavanagh said. "But you get a complex hip implant that may cost tens of thousands of dollars, and it comes with no guarantee. Without that, it's very hard to find out how long these devices are even supposed to last."

The Consumers Union contends that implant manufacturers should be required to guarantee their products.

Joleen Chambers, founder of the Failed Implant Device Alliance, is a keynote speaker at Friday's conference.

If you go

You can register for the conference at Lexington's Four Points Sheraton on Friday morning. Registration is $50, including a box lunch. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m.