Why so many women are undergoing superfluous procedures
Transvaginal mesh, or urogynecological mesh, is a once-popular medical device used to treat pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. It is now enveloped in lawsuits because of its potential to cause irreversible harm. The Food and Drug Administration has released and updated their warning multiple times as new health risks have come to light.
And yet, women are still being played.
How? Let’s discuss.
Unnecessary - and unwanted - mesh removal
A recent report by the New York Times illuminated a significant problem in the transvaginal mesh industry.
Women who have undergone transvaginal mesh procedures are being cold-called and told that their implant is defective. These cold-calls sound legitimate to scared patients because the caller knows the patient’s medical history and says all the right things.
Then the phone call turns terrifying: If the patient does not take immediate action to remove her vaginal mesh implant, she might die.
What follows is the unsuspecting woman being lured into a “doctor’s office” in a strip mall or some other location that is decidedly less than a hospital.
These surgeries, in turn, are not intended to heal them or fix a defect; the surgeries make them better plaintiffs against medical device companies. As the Times put it:
Lawyers building such cases sometimes turn to marketing firms to drum up clients. The marketers turn to finance companies to provide high-interest loans to the clients that have to be repaid only if the clients receive money from the case. Those loans are then used to pay for surgery performed by doctors who are often lined up by the marketers.
It is a growing industry “fueled by banks, private equity firms and hedge funds, which provide financial backing.”
Why push women to have mesh removal surgery if it won’t help them in the end?
Why is this being done in the first place? Why push women to go under the knife if it won’t help them in the end?
Because women who have had their mesh removed make for better plaintiffs than those who have not.
This question plagues a jury during deliberation: If the patient’s transvaginal mesh were truly an issue, wouldn’t she have had it taken out?
Jurors can comprehend that one medical situation is more catastrophic than another. The mesh caused problems, and thus it was removed. That translates into a higher settlement or award.
Going up against medical device companies requires every card in the hand to be played. Lawyers want to make sure their hand is a good one.
Additionally, the Times reports doctors performing these operations (a network of surgeons in Florida and Georgia) stood to earn up to $14,000 per day. Financiers are paid back only if the patient in question receives a settlement. That means any reward mostly goes to the backing firms because of sky-high interest rates on the loan and then to the lawyer who represented the client.
While the surgeons maintain that this is a legitimate business practice (“You have to have a doctor willing to put his license on the line,” said lawyer Dan Christensen, who ran MedStar Funding, to the Times), many women have needed additional surgeries to correct scar tissue and other problems caused by mesh removal surgery. Few of them received second opinions -- or even spoke to their own doctor -- prior to surgery because the cold-callers were insistent on doing things quickly. Their fear was used against them, to their detriment.
Removal of mesh is far more complicated than inserting it.
This is because mesh encourages tissue growth, which anchors the device in place. Removing it requires wrestling the implant out of any tissue keeping it rooted in place, so the process might involve more than one surgery. If a woman does not need to have it removed because of discomfort, incontinence or pain, the device should be kept in place. Taking it out without just cause is damaging to the patient.
What to do if your transvaginal mesh is causing issues
First of all, do not let any cold-calling firm make medical decisions for you. If someone calls and says your vaginal mesh implant is defective, even if they say you might die today, thank the caller and say you will ring back once you have spoken with your doctor and surgeon.
Get their information and Google them. It might not lead back to a marketing firm or quick-cash business, but it could provide some answers as to why someone you don’t know is so interested in your gynecological health.
If someone calls and says your implant is defective, even if they say you might die today, thank the caller and say you will ring back once you have spoken with your doctor and surgeon.
Next, speak with your doctor. He or she can get your surgical notes, which will have the exact vaginal mesh model that was implanted. Your doctor might be able to tell you right away whether there was a recall for defects; medical professionals are generally notified if the problem is serious.
There is also a recall database helmed by the FDA, where one can search for any type of medical device and its recall history. The defect might be for a label rewrite or a change to surgical instructions. Don’t get unnecessary mesh removal surgery because of a packaging defect - talk to your doctor.
If you are involved in a situation like this, consider looking through the Enjuris directory for someone in your state who can help. Do not fall prey to marketing companies and fast-cash businesses looking to make a quick buck off your suffering.
Have you been told you need to have your mesh implant removed? Share your story with our readers below.
Angela parker says
I had a bladder sling put in around in 2014 ever since I have had nothing but agony and pain in my abdomen and my lower back sometime it feels like that the bladder sling is going to fall out I don’t know what to do
Ian Pisarcik says
I am so sorry to hear that you are experiencing discomfort. First and foremost, make sure you schedule an appointment with a doctor to see if there is anything that can be done to ease your pain, and to make sure there are no separate issues that need to be addressed. I would also recommend scheduling a free consultation with a product liability attorney in case there is something defective with the bladder sling itself. Remember, most states limit the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit. This is called the statute of limitations. You can read more about it here: https://www.enjuris.com/personal-injury-law/statute-of-limitations.html. Because of the statute of limitations, you’ll want to schedule a free consultation with an attorney as soon as possible.