Sit with Shari D. and the health issues she’s suffered following transvaginal mesh surgery become clear. Beyond the pain, infections, incontinence and other physical symptoms, she’s also suffered in silence helplessness, anger and even guilt from how the mesh injured her husband. “Honestly, it’s been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to deal with in my life,” she recalls.
Ms. Shari is not alone. As of early 2015, in excess of 70,000 women have filed lawsuits and Multi-District Litigation against the makers of transvaginal mesh, or TVM. Among the millions who had the surgery, untold thousands suffer with devastating outcomes affecting themselves and often their partners.
“The problems with mesh products is very widespread,” Michael Hulse, M.D., a board certified gynecologist. “There’s a large group of women [suffering from mesh products], even larger than the women who’ve already reported it.”
For almost 20 years, TVM, also known as pelvic sling or hammock implants, have been used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. Made of a mesh-like synthetic material, the ends of the implant are secured to the pelvic bones. The devices provide support and stability to the bladder, urethra, uterus, vagina, small bowel or rectum. Problems emerged long before the FDA in July 2011 said it had received nearly 4,000 complaints of TVM malfunction, injury and even death. Women suffered erosion of the mesh through the vaginal wall, and perforation of the bladder, urethra, bowel or rectum. They suffered such physical symptoms that ranged from urinary incontinence and infections; to bleeding; severe pelvic, genital or groin pain; recurrence of prolapse; nerve damage; fistulas; and vaginal scarring.
“This is an unprecedented health tsunami that can potentially affect up to several hundred thousand women throughout the globe,” says Lonny Bramzon, an attorney who represents women in TVM and other medical malpractice cases. “Countless innocent women are suffering horribly from physical and psychological trauma.”
According to most leading psychologists, among the most emotional issues for women and their partners has been painful intercourse and even severe lacerations to the penis. Physical symptoms are compounded by emotional suffering, loss of quality of life, and even the personal guilt many women have endured – especially if a male partner has suffered serious injury or feels a loss of consortium or sexual relations.
What’s worse, multiple surgeries are needed to remove the sling and correct the problem and doctors cannot promise a complete recovery. These staggering complications have prompted the filing of thousands of individual lawsuits and multi-district actions against manufacturers like AMS, Bard Avaulta, Ethicon, and Boston Scientific.300×200-sad
Women who believe they might be suffering TVM complications should immediately seek medical treatment, Bramzon advises. Since most doctors who performed the implant surgery are not skilled at removing the implant or repairing the damage, it is recommended they seek a board certified gynecological surgeon skilled in removing the device. The next step for many women and their partners is to talk with an attorney, Bramzon says. Because of the personal nature of these cases, some clients may feel more comfortable discussing their matter with female attorneys or paralegals – all at no cost until the case is tried or settled to the plaintiffs’ benefit.
“We listen to the heart-felt stories as women discuss the pain they, and often their husbands or partners, have endured,” says Bramzon. “By educating them about TVM and the legal process, they become informed, lose their vulnerability, and gain a feeling of empowerment. That’s an important first step toward their future.”
Bramzon added he has seen a dramatic increase of interest among patients as the statute of limitations are coming due in various states. He encourages individuals to speak with an attorney since each case has its own set of unique circumstances and specific filing deadlines vary from state-to-state.