An investigation by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Show has found a number of women underwent hysterectomies to remove a sterilisation device, Essure, used on the NHS.
Laura Linkson, who was fitted with the Essure device in 2013, told the BBC the pain resulting from the Essure implant left her suicidal.
She subsequently had her uterus removed.
Women who suffer from pain and complications from their Essure implant may be able to claim compensation.
What is an Essure implant?
Essure implants are small coils made of nickel and polyester (PET) fibres. The coil is inserted into the fallopian tube, where they trigger inflammation. The scar tissue that builds up as a result, grows around the coils and seals the tubes, preventing pregnancy.
This is known as hysteroscopic sterilisation.
Because of the way the Essure implant is fitted, the only way to remove the device is to take out the woman’s fallopian tubes and, in some cases, her uterus.
What are the complications of Essure implants?
Women who have experienced adverse symptoms following having an Essure implant inserted have reported suffering from:
- heavy bleeding and menstrual cramping
- intense pain and discomfort
- being bedridden
- hair loss
- bloating and weight fluctuation
- pain during sexual intercourse
But most disturbingly of all, in some cases, the Essure device has been found to have left the fallopian tube and moved to a different part of the body. In other cases, the coil has perforated the fallopian tube and other organs.
Erin Brockovich and Essure
The concerns surrounding Essure implants are not confined to the UK. Consumer rights and environmental activist, Erin Brockovich, who was famously portrayed by Julia Roberts in an Oscar winning movie, set up a website in America for women to tell their stories of the complications they suffered due to the procedure.
Back in the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been criticised for not responding to the increasing evidence regarding the device.
A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2015 found there was a 10-fold increased risk in the need for reoperation associated with hysteroscopic sterilisation with the Essure device when compared to laparoscopic sterilisation (commonly known as tube tying); translating into about 21 additional reoperations per 1000 patients undergoing surgery.
However, the study also found that hysteroscopic sterilisation was often performed on older patients and those with higher comorbidity (the addition of one or more diseases or disorders) compared with laparoscopic tubal ligation. This may contribute to the higher rate of reoperation.
The EU has temporarily suspended the sale of Essure implants this month pending further investigation. In addition, manufacturer Bayer has asked hospitals in the UK not to use the device during this time.
Bayer told the BBC that independent reviews of Essure had concluded that the benefits outweighed the risks.
"Patient safety and appropriate use of Essure are the greatest priorities for Bayer, and the company fully stands behind Essure as an appropriate choice for women who desire permanent contraception," it added in a statement.
"Many women with Essure rely on this form of contraception without any side effects."
How do I claim compensation for injury and/or complications caused by an Essure implant?
If you have suffered from injury or complications you believe were caused by an Essure implant (this includes having a hysterectomy to have it removed), you may be able to claim compensation.
The first step is to contact an experienced clinical negligence solicitor who can quickly advise you if you have a valid claim. If so, you may be offered a no win, no fee payment arrangement (also known as Conditional Fee Arrangement). This means if your claim for compensation is unsuccessful, you will not need to pay legal fees (although you may need to pay disbursements).
Compensation can never make up for the physical and mental pain and suffering you may have suffered following complications caused by an Essure implant. However, it can enable you to rebuild your life and move forward.
At IBB, our personal injury team, led by Malcolm Underhill, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to claim compensation for an injury sustained following an Essure coil implant. To talk about how we might be able to help, please phone us on 0333 123 9099, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our contact form. Any discussions you have with us will be in the strictest of confidence and treated with utmost sensitivity.