Professor Carl Heneghan, who specialises in evidence-based medicine, stated that some of the devices used in vaginal-based procedures had not been clinically tested. Furthermore, he was shocked by the number of women affected.
The transvaginal mesh scandal
The transvaginal mesh scandal has generated class action lawsuits in several countries, including America, Australia and the United Kingdom.
In the United States, more than 100,000 lawsuits have been filed, making it one of the largest mass torts in history. Many claims have been settled, some for tens of millions of dollars.
In Australia, over 700 women launched a federal court class action against medical giant, Johnson & Johnson three months ago, alleging their lives were all but destroyed by flaws with the manufacturer's vaginal mesh implants.
In the UK, over 300 women are currently taking action against Johnson & Johnson, who own the subsidiary company Ethicon who manufacture transvaginal mesh products.
Prior to this year, few members of the public had heard of vaginal mesh. However, the coverage of the vaginal mesh scandal in the media, highlighting the dilemma of the thousands of women who have suffered complications linked to the device, has resulted in a heightened awareness of the issue. This will come as a relief to many victims, who are fighting to claim compensation for the pain and suffering caused by vaginal mesh implants.
If you are one of the hundreds of women currently suffering from complications caused by a vaginal mesh implant, you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries and mental anguish.
What is vaginal mesh and why has it caused injuries to women?
Vaginal mesh implants have been used for years to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). The surgical mesh, usually made from synthetic polypropylene, is inserted into the vagina or vaginal wall using hooks and left there to support the womb. This helps reposition the urethra and bladder, restoring continence.
Over 75,000 women in England had a transvaginal mesh implant, also known as TVT - between 2006 and 2016, according to NHS data.
One in 15 have had the implant removed.
Although mesh implants seem to work well in other parts of the body, when inserted into the abdomen, there is a sharp rise in the risk of complications.
Complications resulting from vaginal mesh implants can include:
- serious and ongoing abdominal and vaginal pain
- discomfort during sexual intercourse
- pain when walking
- no improvement in incontinence symptoms
- post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression
One woman told the Guardian that she had been left with such intense pain following the surgery that “my kids don’t remember the mum from three and a half years ago. I don’t do the things I used to do,” she said. “I can categorically say, if I didn’t have my children I wouldn’t be here today.”
In July 2018 it was announced that the NHS would be pausing vaginal mesh procedures, following the results of a new review which found no evidence on the benefits for treating urinary incontinence that would “outweigh the severity of human suffering caused by mesh complications”. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has already recommended that the procedure be largely stopped in England. For the foreseeable future mesh will be used only as a last resort for treating “carefully selected patients”. This halt in vaginal mesh procedures will last until at least March 2019 and will only be lifted if certain checks and measures are met by this deadline.
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Can you claim compensation from the NHS or manufacturer of the TVT?
The class action lawsuits being brought around the world are centred around claims based on product liability.
The products that are held as defective or subject to settlement in the US would include:
- Obtryx sling
- Pinnacle pelvic mesh repair kit
- Gynecare TVT-O sling
- Prolift, Prolift M+
- TVT Secur pelvic mesh device
If you have been fitted with one of these devices and have suffered pain and/or complications, you may be able to claim compensation for a personal injury caused by a defective product.
You may also have a claim against the NHS if you were subject to one of the following failures:
- Lack of treatment choice – the National Institute for Healthcare Excellence (NICE) states women should be offered a three-month programme of supervised pelvic-floor muscle training before surgery is mooted as an option. In addition, invasive surgery should only be considered after a Multi-Disciplinary Team review has been conducted. Failure to follow this procedure could amount to clinical negligence.
- Lack of informed consent – you should be provided with all the information available regarding vaginal mesh implants, including the possibility of long-term complications. This breach of duty could give rise to a compensation claim.
- Negligently performed surgery – if the surgeon makes a mistake during the TVT procedure, such as not attaching the mesh correctly, and this causes you pain and/or complications, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
Compensation for victims of vaginal mesh implants
Claims for product liability and clinical negligence are subject to time limitations. Therefore, it is crucial that you contact a solicitor as soon as you start to suffer complications from your transvaginal mesh surgery.
Compensation can help fund additional surgery to repair any damage done by the vaginal mesh, in addition to rehabilitation, and counselling (if you are suffering anxiety and/or depression following your ordeal).
Our personal injury team, led by compensation expert Malcolm Underhill, has the expertise and knowledge to advise and represent you if you wish to make a claim following a vaginal mesh 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 handled with the utmost sensitivity.