A GLOBAL HEALTH CRISIS – PELVIC MESH IMPLANTS
It has taken some time for the scale and extent of the impact of pelvic mesh implants for women to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Once hailed as the perfect solution for an enduring surgical fix for these non-life-threatening conditions, it has left a swathe of women with permanent, life altering consequences. Persistent pelvic pain at rest. Inability to have sex. Inability to continue working, and the financial impact often amplified by failed marriages as the lack of intimacy took its toll. The full list of complications is listed on the Therapeutic Goods Administration mesh hub.
In 2017 Australia undertook a Senate Inquiry – entitled Number of women in Australia who have had transvaginal mesh implants and related matters. We literally did not know how many women had been impacted. There were 13 recommendations in the final report, with a mix of federal and state responsibilities to effect implementation. There was even one on effective informed consent processes. It was clear from submissions and hearings that women were not informed about the potential horrific consequences of their choice, and that the mesh is extremely complex to remove. With the divide of responsibility between state and federal governments and the fact that most of the implant surgeries were performed in private hospitals, it is difficult to track real progress. Some meshes have been banned from use, but by no means all. Many women are still unaware that their sequelae of symptoms are related to their mesh implants. GPs and specialists may also be unaware.
WA PELVIC MESH SUPPORT GROUP
The peer support group the WA Pelvic Mesh Support Group has its own website and is an essential stakeholder in WA’s response to the mesh crisis.
WA PELVIC MESH COMPLICATIONS CLINIC
This clinic has been set up in King Edward Memorial Hospital and has been operating since 2017. There is a committee of clinicians and consumers who meet to discuss the clinic’s model and progress, as this area is complex and changing. The committee continues to aim to advance the recommendations of the Inquiry.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS – A NATIONAL FORUM ON THE IMPACT OF MESH IMPLANTS
A National Mesh Implant Forum was held in Melbourne on Friday April 5, 2019, to consider all aspects of Australia’s mesh implant crisis. The Forum was proudly convened by the Health Issues Centre and Health Consumers NSW, Health Consumers Queensland, Health Consumers’ Council (WA), Health Consumers Alliance of South Australia, Health Care Consumers (ACT), Health Consumers Tasmania.
The event brought together mesh injured consumers, carers, regulatory authorities, health officials, the Chair of the Senate Inquiry into mesh and consumer advocates to create solutions and bring about real change. The forum considered not only the impact of pelvic mesh, but the emerging parallel crisis involving people who have received hernia mesh implants. A full report is available here.
NEW REPORT – HERNIA MESH IMPLANTS – CONSUMER SURVEY
Health Issues Centre Victoria initiated the Mesh Device and Implant Failure study late last year and of the respondents, a sizeable 183 patients have already reported major problems with their hernia mesh implants. 70 per cent of these are men. You can read the report here.
According to publicly available figures nearly 100,000 Australians are hospitalised for hernia each year. However, the numbers of patients that go on to have pelvic mesh implants and that are negatively impacted is not known. People who would like to report complications of hernia procedures using mesh can complete the survey here.