Investigation into MeshPublished on: 12 April 2018
Urogynaecological mesh is used to treat stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Stress incontinence is very common after childbirth and at the stage of menopause. Pelvic organ prolapse often occurs following childbirth. Both can significantly impact everyday life.
Can slice through organs
Reconstructive surgery using mesh has been used to treat symptoms in hundreds of thousands of women. There are different brands and manufacturers but it is a net-like implant used to give support to weakened organs and repair damaged tissue.
Many women have experienced problems following the procedure. Campaign group ‘Sling the Mesh’ outline that women have suffered chronic pain and constant urinary infections, which in some cases has led to sepsis. They call it a ‘ticking time bomb’ as problems can begin years after implantation. Some women can experience severe life-changing complications. One of the problems is that mesh, which is made out of polypropylene plastic, can erode, stiffen and slice through organs such as the bladder.
Labour MP Owen Smith set up an all-party parliamentary group to look into the safety of mesh devices and this has led to a full retrospective audit being launched by the Government in February 2018.
Mr Smith said ‘The mesh scandal shows what can go wrong when devices are aggressively marketed to doctors and then used in patients for whom they were unsuited or unnecessary.’
New Zealand have banned the use of mesh
There has been great criticism over many types of mesh not being subject to proper clinical trials. Two weeks after the death of campaigner Chrissy Brajcic in November 2017, New Zealand became the first country to ban the use of mesh for the repair of prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. It has also been heavily restricted in Australia.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) updated its guidance in December 2017 to say that mesh implants for prolapse should now only be used in the context of research. ‘Current evidence on the safety of transvaginal mesh repair of anterior or posterior vaginal wall prolapse shows there are serious but well-recognised safety concerns. Evidence of long-term efficacy is inadequate in quality and quantity.’
A large number of women are in the process of making legal claims against the NHS and the manufacturers of the mesh. Kath Sansom of ‘Sling the Mesh’, says many women were fobbed off for many years, being told that their problems were not related to the mesh and are therefore time-barred from bringing a legal claim.
We await the outcome of the Government review.
If you have suffered problems from the use of mesh, then feel free to give our experienced clinical negligence team a call to discuss things further.