More than 600 people affected by surgical mesh have participated in a New Zealand report to restore justice to those affected by surgical mesh. The Restorative Justice Report, seven months in the making by Victoria University of the New Zealand capitol city, Wellington, was finally released today.
Here is the report from the Ministry of Health.
It captured first-hand personal stories from hundreds of men and women in New Zealand who’ve been harmed by the use of polypropylene surgical mesh from no informed consent, surgical incompetence, medical negligence, a lack of accountability among health professionals.
Image: Women of Influence Awards NZ, Patricia Sullivan (left), Charlotte Korte (center), Carmel Berry (right), Co-Founders of Mesh Down Under
The main goal, according to Charlotte Korte of Mesh Down Under (MDU) was to get NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to acknowledge mesh injured, the suffering they have had to endure and the significance of the report and this process.
“We need her voice and empathy on the global stage to give weight to this issue for all mesh injured around the world, but also to show that she does actually care about the suffering that has happened in NZ.” ~ MDU press release
Charlotte Korte of MDU told Mesh News Desk, “This Restorative Justice process has clearly identified the severity of surgical mesh harms, these harrowing stories have revealed what everyone has had to endure and is still going through every day. This is a serious global issue, we need to stop the mounting carnage now, before any more people are hurt.”
Many men and women injured by the PP mesh have been dismissed and told its “in your head” and that “Mesh has nothing to do with your symptoms.”
Some of the comments submitted to the report:
“Patients emphasized that a meaningful apology must include acknowledgement of harm…….”The loss of trust they now have in health care providers and institutions cannot be overstated."
“Restoring trust and confidence in clinicians and the healthcare system was considered a major priority” of this process. But patients identified that “this is dependent on “seeing tangible progress” in rectifying the problems created by surgical mesh.”
“Patients injuries and needs have rarely been acknowledged or validated by those in the health system, leaving them feeling desperate and, in many cases, contemplating suicide."
Some health professionals who participated described when they tried to raise concern about the mesh surgery, either an implant or a removal, they were severely bullied.
“This has perpetrated a culture of denial which has resulted in the failing of basic patient care and safety standards,” says MDU in a news release.
The leaders of the advocacy group wanted the Associate Health Minister to request that the Prime Minister make an apology to those suffering surgical mesh complications. New Zealand was conscious it was lagging behind Australia where the Health Minister apologized to Australian women last October “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 has led to horrific outcomes.”
The report addresses credentialing surgeons, requires specialists in multidisciplinary mesh services, requires informed consent to patients as part of counsel.
It calls for improvements in the culture of safety, acknowledgement of harm, and better response to that harm now and in the future.
In New Zealand, the Accident Compensation Corporation or ACC is responsible for providing the cost to accident victims on a no-fault basis.
Compare that system to the U.S. where product liability cases are solved through the civil court system and personal injury claims against the defendant mesh maker. It is very much a fault system and often carries heavy penalty against the defendant in the form of punitive damages that have run into the tens of millions of dollars.
U.S. mesh trials so far have seen juries award $681.2 million in compensation to mesh-injured women. Most of those awards and punitive damage amounts are on appeal.
Since 2005, ACC has received more than 1,000 injury claims concerning complications of surgical mesh, mostly for pelvic repairs.
ACC Chief Customer Officer Emma Powell says “we attended several listening circles and heard how people’s lives have been deeply affected by mesh injuries. We’re grateful for the courage shown by everyone who has shared their experiences. We recognize the severity of the harm it’s caused and we’re taking the issue seriously.”
Powell says they are working closely with Mesh down Under advocacy group to address the concerns including updating medical information on mesh injuries and is designing programs to prevent mesh-related injuries.
Of the 1,000 accepted surgical mesh-related treatment injury claims, Mesh Down Under reports that as of April 30, 2019, the total costs paid is about $23.6 million (NZ dollar which is .66 cents per US dollar) on 959 claims.
Of the $23.6 million, 63% ($14.8 million) was associated with POP and/or SUI repair (620 claims incurred costs); 31% (7.4 million) for hernia repair (286 claims incurred costs), and 6% ($1.3) for ‘Other’ mesh surgery (53 claims incurred costs).
That amounts to approximately to a little more than $16,000 per patient in U.S. dollars and much of that is spent on medical care, not compensation going directly to the patient.
Korte tells MND, 25% of the claims for mesh are declined. An unknown number of people have not put in a claim to the ACC so the 1,000 pending number may represent just 10% of all eligible claims.
At least 11 women have made their way to have mesh removal surgery in St. Louis by Dr. Veronikis, Renate Schutte tells MND.
MDU feels these initial proposals fall “extremely short of what is truly needed, and many of the needs identified in the report are missing in they lack tangible outcomes in the ‘agreed actions.”
The following questions need to be answered:
MND, New Zealand Restricts All Transvaginal Mesh Implants, December 12, 2017
MND, New Zealand Mesh Injured Campaigners Make Changes with Govt Petition, June 15, 2016
MND, Suffering in New Zealand: Jacqui Scott Wants Mesh Removal Surgery in States, Nov. 20, 2013
MND, Mesh Down Under: Litigation in New Zealand Heats Up, April 7, 2014