Will vaginal mesh report lead to surge of compensation claims?

Date: Apr 24, 2018

A damning new report outlining the hazards of transvaginal mesh implants has added to a growing body of evidence that could lead to negligence claims against medical practitioners and manufacturers.

The Australian Government began investigating the medical devices after hundreds of women around the country said they suffered serious complications following an implant. The meshes are designed to prevent prolapses and support organs in the pelvic region.

However, more than 500 women contacted the Senate Community Affairs References Inquiry to describe horrific experiences after surgery. They detailed debilitating symptoms, such as chronic pain, incontinence, anxiety, depression and an inability to have sex.

Scale of scandal surprises Senate

Senator Derryn Hinch, who led the inquiry, admitted the injuries that women reported were far worse than the committee could have predicted.

"I believe it was one of the biggest medical scandals Australian women have ever been subjected to and there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Thousands of women were deformed," he told the ABC.

A global uproar over the potential side effects of vaginal meshes caused health authorities to ban certain products in Australia in November 2017. The inquiry's report said they should now only be used as a last resort.

The committee also provided various recommendations to resolve the situation, including:

  • Improve education for medical practitioners and patients regarding transvaginal meshes;
  • Set up a national register to track the devices;
  • Better surgical training to ensure meshes can be removed;
  • Establish mandatory reporting of vaginal mesh issues; and
  • Introduce counselling programs for women who were adversely affected by the devices.

Can women claim compensation?

Patients who underwent surgery to have the meshes fitted could now pursue medical negligence or product liability claims, depending on the circumstances of their injuries.

A number of class action lawsuits are already underway worldwide against vaginal mesh firms, including Johnson & Johnson in Australia. More than 700 women in the country are pursuing claims against the pharmaceutical company. But doctors may also find themselves in the firing line.

For example, the report found many patients were not adequately informed of the possible negative outcomes from having pelvic implants. This breach of a doctor's duty of care could constitute medical negligence and lead to compensation.

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as a result of transvaginal mesh implants or other medical procedures in Australia, please contact an expert at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.