A hernia is a condition where an organ pushes through a weak spot in surrounding muscle or connective tissue. This results in an uncomfortable feeling and, more often than not, a visible bump which usually requires surgery to fix.
An estimated 40,000 Australians have hernias surgically repaired every year, making it one of the most common operations nationwide, according to the Better Health Channel.
However, a surge in patients who have experienced complications during hernia operations are coming forward, resulting in a rise of medical negligence claims.
What is involved in a hernia operation?
When undergoing a surgical hernia repair, medical professionals work to manipulate the contents back into the abdominal cavity and close the muscle. Of the various techniques available, using mesh to cover larger defects is a common choice for many doctors. However, it's this choice that is leaving many patients with significant complications afterwards.
What stories are people sharing?
Of the various problems that are arising from hernia mesh surgery, bowel blockages and vomiting up faeces are two of the most common. One patient who went under the knife told ABC that at one point she feared for her life.
"It just takes over every aspect of your life and the pain is unbearable", she said.
A man from Western Australia claimed the operation left him with changes to his skin colour.
"In the end I asked them why my skin was turning brown and then they took me away and found out I had peritonitis, and they reckoned the mesh had ulcerated my bowel," he said. However, medical staff put his symptoms down to being darkly tanned because he worked outdoors.
What is being done to prevent these problems?
Last year, the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced the ban of vaginal mesh after a large number of women experienced life-changing complications. However, doctors still believe hernia mesh is the best option for repair, meaning the practice is still prevalent around the country.
Despite these beliefs, medical professionals outlined their concerns about the ongoing use of surgical mesh in a submission to a Therapeutic Goods Administration. One of these recommendations highlighted that all patients should be well-informed of the risks associated with this type of surgery, so they can make an informed decision as whether mesh repair is right for them.
In 2017, one NSW woman was awarded just over $1 million in compensation after the Supreme Court found that doctors had been negligent in warning her of the risks of hernia mesh which led to a large infection.
While the future use of hernia mesh is unclear, the risks of injury still remain.
If you've experienced medical complications as a result of negligence, get in touch with the team at Gerard Malouf & Parners to see how we can help you submit a claim for compensation.