Experts Say FDA Should Abandon Approval Process

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"It's really a gamble. You hope that the product that you are going to choose or that your doctor is going to choose is safe and is going to last a long time," she said.

Unfortunately, patients don't have a way of knowing for certain that the device being placed inside their bodies is safe. There are, however, some steps that patients can take to protect themselves.

How to Protect Yourself

Demand full disclosure Ask your doctor if he or she is paid by the maker of the implant they're recommending for you. This is a big red flag -- that your doctor may be more interested in promoting the device rather than in doing what's best for you. Check the device maker's website. The device maker must -- by law -- list all the doctorsit gives money to.

Do your homework What track record does the device maker have? How many recalls? Click here to check.

Click Here to See a List of the FDA's Recalled Products

Newer does not always mean better Is the hip or knee that your doctor recommends new to the market? If yes, ask your doctor to explain why it is better than those that have been tested over time. "If the device has been around for a number of years with a good track record, it probably is quite safe," said Dr. Albert Pearsall, the director of sports medicine at the University of South Alabama. "If you Google the prosthesis or manufacturer and there are no red flags, then probably it's OK."

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