Vaginal Mesh Implants – Australian Government Apologizes to Women for Years of Pain
The Australian government has issued a public apology to women, acknowledging the pain and agony that has resulted from vaginal mesh implants. Thousands of women across the world have used the mesh, which most of the time, has led to unforetold suffering. Lawsuits have now been filed to audit what is being called the “biggest medical scandal” ever.
“On behalf of the Australian government, I say sorry to all of those women with the historic agony and pain that has come from mesh implantation which have led to horrific outcomes,” said Greg Hunt, Australia Minister for Health. “My message to them is your voice has been heard, and not just heard but acted upon,” Hunt added, reassuring support for those affected in his country.
Hunt’s comments came after Australia’s Senate Community Affairs Committee made an inquiry into the number of women who had had vaginal mesh implants, as well as the implants’ related issues. The inquiry had been informed by the horror stories of women in the country who had mesh implants, and uncovered the debilitating effects and suffering the meshes caused.
The “Biggest Medical Scandal”
From the inquiry, the Senate found that many women had complained to their physicians after the implant procedure; the physicians would then either brush off their concerns or make them believe they were the only ones experiencing the pain.
One victim commented: “Women are still not being believed by their doctors. [The doctors] are still implanting mesh and telling women it is new mesh and it is the same mesh.”
According to the inquiry, the doctors were either “clueless” of the effects of the meshes on women, or deliberately downplayed the women’s complaints.
Speaking to the committee, another woman spoke of how she had gone to her doctor for a period spanning over two years complaining of various pelvic problems, which she suspected were caused by her mesh implant. She said it took another 12 months for the doctor to finally suggest the mesh could be the problem, and she was then informed that she was the only patient with mesh complications.
Another woman confessed to the committee saying, “I began to dread attending the GP (general practitioner) for fear of being made to feel like a hypochondriac, again dismissed and told that it was very unlikely my symptoms were due to the mesh, and all the ‘hype on the internet’ was not to be believed anyway.”
Confirming these reports to the committee, Ms. Stella Channing of the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group (APMSG) said: “What happens is that women who are suffering with their pain and complications such as mesh erosion or they are bleeding go to their doctor – and, to be honest it starts at the GP level. The GPs don’t understand mesh or mesh complications and the women are usually fobbed off.”
“They might be sent for a scan or an x-ray and they are sent away. The x-ray comes back with nothing and then the doctors say ‘there’s nothing wrong with you because you don’t show anything.’ Women go back again and again to doctors and they are being sent away, and doctors are saying ‘we don’t know what it is.’ Some women go on for years in that same cycle,” she added.
Following these revelations, Senator Derryn Hinch, a participating member of the inquiry, called the situation “the biggest medical scandal ever” in the history of Australia.
Hunt promised that the government would look into the matter and involve all stakeholders in providing a lasting solution, as “too many women had suffered for too much long.”
Vaginal mesh implants: a big problem worldwide
Australia isn’t the only nation where vaginal mesh implants are going wrong. Reports by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) show that about 100,000 implant procedures are performed every year, and of these, tens of thousands go wrong, and hundreds of deaths occur as a result.
Women from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and other parts of the world have filed or joined class action lawsuits against mesh manufactures in a bid to seek compensation for their suffering. Companies facing these numerous lawsuits include American Medical Systems, Johnson & Johnson, C.R. Bard Coloplast and Cook Medical, who are some of the largest manufactures of vaginal mesh implants.
Acknowledgement of the suffering by the Australian government is a step in the right direction and an encouragement to all other women enduring the excruciating pain in silence. However, Danny Vadasz of the Health Issues Center thinks the apology is not enough: “I think people still need an explanation about why the various regulatory systems that are supposed to protect the public failed.”