Vaginal mesh claims: 5 questions you need to ask

Image of mesh stretching off into the distanceSenior doctors have called for a public inquiry into the use of vaginal mesh to repair injuries to mothers caused during childbirth. The doctors are saying that there are unacceptably high complication rates associated with the procedure, and have questioned if the surgery has always been used appropriately.

So, if you or someone you love is affected, what questions do you need to ask?

What is TVT and Mesh?

Vaginal mesh and its predecessor TVT (trans-vaginal tape) are used to treat two different conditions in women who have given birth – urinary stress incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. Both affect the bladder and can make life uncomfortable for those affected.

Mesh and TVT were used to treat both of these conditions, and it was thought that as inserting them was less invasive than traditional surgery and this would make life easier for the patients. They work by providing support within the body, which would in theory enable doctors to repair the damage sustained during childbirth.

What Questions Should You Ask Before Making Mesh Claims?

1. Did TVT/Mesh Cause My Symptoms?

The problems women have reported after TVT/mesh surgery include:

• Pain
• The mesh moving and being able to be felt within the vagina (and this is not as erosion)
• Inability to control the bladder well – in particular when it is difficult to pass urine
• Some women experience other problems including damage to blood vessels and infection.

2. Is TVT/Mesh Unsafe?

Although there has been a lot of criticism of mesh, the evidence does not point one way. In the UK the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHPRA) found that mesh used correctly was safe and produced good results for many people.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said that mesh may be better than alternatives for treating vaginal prolapse. More recently, in February 2016, the Cochrane Review was more critical and was concerned at the number of poor outcomes. So, the evidence is not entirely clear but so far there is probably no reason to ban it.

3. Was I Given the Right Advice?

The advice your surgeon gave you should have been tailored to you. There is no standard advice which is suitable for everyone. But you should have been told about:

• The potential benefits of TVT/mesh in resolving your symptoms
• The difference between TVT and TVTO (different types of mesh)
• The risks (including the problems listed above) – and about 9% of people are not happy with the outcome
• The potential risks of benefits of alternative treatments, including not having treatment at all

The law requires doctors to give you the advice you need to make your own decision. It generally expects doctors to consider what a reasonable patient in your position would want to know.

4. Was My Mesh Put in Properly?

Not all problems with TVT/mesh are avoidable. Some people have a bad outcome even though no one has done anything wrong. However, if the mesh has eroded into your bladder, it may well have been put in wrongly.

5. Do I Have a Claim?

Some solicitors advise that TVT/mesh is a defective product in itself and that patients who suffer complications as a result may be entitled to damages. It is not clear that they are right, but if the mesh has eroded into your bladder or has caught a nerve, you may be entitled to damages for negligence.

If you would like advice about vaginal mesh claims, speak to one of our specialist clinical negligence solicitors in confidence today.