Problems With Surgical Mesh Cost Millions
First published in the November 2012 edition of the Auckland Women’s Health Council Newsletter
The October 2011 issue of the AWHC newsletter featured an article on the use of the gynaecological mesh and the serious complications that many women have experienced as a consequence of having had this medical device implanted. After placing the article on the AWHC’s website, the Council has been contacted by several women with horrific stories of what the mesh has done to them. Over the past month a number of articles have also appeared in the NZ Herald with further examples of the devastating problems caused by mesh implants in both men and women.1, 2, 3
The AWHC’s October 2011 article about this medical device outlined how the mesh was able to be marketed and used without having to undergo clinical trials either in the USA or in New Zealand. It also stated that “New Zealand has Medsafe to ensure that the New Zealand public is protected from unsafe medicines and medical devices.”
It appears that Medsafe has been less than successful in protecting the public when it comes to surgical meshes – as well as hip implants and other medical devices. According to the articles in the Herald there have been 600 claims to the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) involving meshes since 2008. Only 389 have been accepted, with ACC paying out $3.1 million in treatment and compensation to people with post-surgical complications.1, 2
These complications include erosion through the vaginal epithelium, infections, severe pain, urinary problems, recurrence and/or incontinence, bowel, bladder and blood vessel perforation during insertion, and the requirement for additional surgical procedures. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed that women have died from complications after mesh surgery for prolapsed pelvic organs. In her presentation in Auckland in 2011 Professor Julie Quinlivan described the horrendous and permanent disfigurement involved in many of the attempts to remove the gynaecological mesh.
The FDA began issuing safety warnings regarding the use of the mesh in late 2008. In the US there are now thousands of lawsuits underway. In New Zealand there have been complaints to the Health and Disability Commissioner (HDC) although it is not known if any have been successful. One woman told the Herald that her complaint had been dismissed.1
Despite the increasing controversy and groundswell of complaints, the mesh is still being implanted in hundreds of New Zealanders. Women report not being warned about possible complications and risks, and there is absolutely no information on the Medsafe website about the mesh.
But one brave woman has established her own website: Mesh Down Under