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From embodiment to evidence: The harmful intersection of poor regulation of medical implants and obstructed narratives in embodied experiences of failed metal-on-metal hips

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Pauline McCormack



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This research presents the results of a study about people with failed metal-on-metal hip implants, and draws on the STS concept of the technological imperative alongside research on the value of patient knowledge in clinical settings and the legitimacy of embodied stories. Popularly understood as positive and life changing, hip replacement surgery was hailed as ‘the operation of the century’, until a series of widespread failures of hundreds of thousands of hip implants, known collectively as metal-on-metal (MoM) hips, drew attention to the poor regulation of medical implants. This paper argues that poor regulation intersects with narratives of patients’ pain, which are obstructed by surgeons and the UK regulatory body, with the effect of denying both patients’ embodied experiences of implant failure, and their restitution to good health. Patient narratives about problems with their hip implant are the wellspring from which scientific evidence emerges which can indicate widespread implant failure. By obstructing these narratives the regulatory system undermines the very evidence it needs to operate effectively.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McCormack P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Health

Year: 2023

Issue: ePub ahead of Print

Online publication date: 05/06/2023

Acceptance date: 11/05/2023

Date deposited: 15/06/2023

ISSN (electronic): 1461-7196

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/13634593231179026


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Funder referenceFunder name
Newcastle University EPSRC Impact Grant