More Women Taking Legal Action for Mesh Implant Complications

by Personal Injury Claims Blawg on November 26, 2017 800 women are joining together to sue NHS and leading transvaginal mesh implant manufacturers based on complications experienced post-procedure. The medical community in the UK has had a longstanding discussion surrounding the effectiveness of mesh implants to treat incontinence and pelvic prolapse in women, with some arguing for their continued use and others calling for a widespread ban. A recent report published by the NHS highlights that although many women have successful results from mesh implant surgery, one in 15 are forced to go back to their provider to have the mesh implant removed. The new statistics are cause for concern for women in need of treatment in the UK.

Mesh Implant Prevalence and Use

Vaginal or pelvic mesh implants have been a staple in the medical market for a number of years, manufactured by medical device giants Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Ethicon throughout the UK. More than 92,000 women from April 2007 through March 2015 had mesh implant surgery to help treat the problems associated with incontinence and pelvic prolapse. For patients experiencing incontinence, or leaking from the bladder after movement like sneezing, coughing, running or jumping, mesh implants are meant to work as a strengthener for the pelvic floor. Mesh implants are also used in the correction of pelvic prolapse – an issue many women experience due to aging or another cause of a weakened pelvic floor. Prolapse may cause pain and discomfort during intercourse or toileting or high levels of sensitivity that make leading a normal life a challenge. For each common medical condition, mesh implants are surgically attached to the pelvic wall and over time, attach to the tissue to promote strength.

Vaginal mesh implants are often the go-to recommended treatment for women who experience incontinence or pelvic prolapse, before or in lieu of any other viable treatment option. The reasons cited by medical professionals has to do with the prevalence of successful surgeries of hundreds of thousands of women. When a mesh implant surgery is successful, patients experience fewer or less severe symptoms of incontinence and prolapse, allowing them to function without discomfort or embarrassment. Unfortunately, recent reports show that the number of mesh implant surgeries that do not go as planned have a negative impact on a patient’s quality of life.

Risks Outweighing the Rewards

The risks of vaginal mesh implant surgery are not widely discussed in a patient-provider setting, leaving women under the assumption that the course of treatment is the most optimal choice. However, a representative from a medical negligence specialist firm shares that this is not always the case. Reviewing an increasing number of cases involving failed mesh implant surgeries, the representative explains that complications can arise quickly post-procedure, leaving women in a vulnerable position. Instead of experiencing a reduction in symptoms, a mesh implant may effectively tear through the skin. This can cause ongoing pain and discomfort during intercourse or while walking, or an infection that can be a challenge to treat correctly and in a timely fashion. Moreover, women who return to have the mesh implant removed may find that a second surgery cannot be done without causing permanent damage to the nerves. In either case, women are left in a worse condition than they started because the risks of the procedure or a feasible alternative were not shared up front.

The increase in the number of women joining the fight against the NHS and leading mesh implant manufacturers is telling, and it is likely to cause of outcries among medical providers in the UK. Several doctors and experts in the field have come together to show their disapproval of the prevalent use of mesh implant surgery to treat incontinence and pelvic prolapse, given the known risks and negative outcomes experienced by patients. In recent meetings, a request to ban mesh implant surgery was made, pointing to the growing tension over the procedure as the go-to option for patients. Some argue that taking away mesh implant surgery as a treatment option ultimately removes patient choice at the same time, leaving women without all the options on the table.

Instead of shutting out mesh implant surgery as an alternative to more invasive surgery, the NHS may consider requiring providers to offer suitable treatment plans that do not involve mesh implants in addition to implant surgery. Patients visiting the NHS for treatment for incontinence and pelvic prolapse need guidance from their providers on which treatment is most appropriate for them, and they must have an understanding of the risks involved with mesh implant surgery so a sound, informed decision can be made.

Personal Injury Claims Blawg

Personal Injury Claims Blawg

PI claims blogger at PIClaimsBlawg
Personal Injury Claims Blawg is a personal injury law blog, inviting contributions from practitioners, PI law firms and legal academics across the UK, US and beyond. The post above has been published because of the high value associated with the author's work. Contact us if you'd like to get published today.
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