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Hello May- Doctor Duh!

Jane Akre, editor Mesh News Desk

Jane Akre, editor Mesh News Desk

This story was originally submitted to the New York Times as an Op-Ed. It was not picked up.

So far mainstream media has a blackout on this type of news, likely because of the potential advertisers who make these medical devices. I thought I would post it here for May because lately I’m hearing from women who have recently had a polypropylene mesh implant.  

Considering the 100,000 lawsuits, the medical malpractice suits filed against implanting doctors, the emerging science about mesh implants contained in this website from trial coverage, the FDA warning from July 2011 that mesh complications are “not rare” – it is unimaginable that polypropylene implants are being used except in rare circumstances when there is no other option.  The following is a message to women being told to ignore what they read because “it’s not the same mesh.” ~ Jane Akre

“Sometimes I wonder if doctors read.  I realize they spend a lot of time taking care of patients, often seeing one right after the other to keep a healthy revenue flow.  There is paperwork, expensive medical malpractice insurance and long hours. I respect the medical profession and count as friends a doctor or two. Then I get a note like this one and I have to say “Doctor, Duh!”  What are you doing?

This woman writes to me as editor of Mesh News Desk that she recently had a Monarc sling implanted, in fact just last month.  Never mind that there are in excess of 19,000 lawsuits filed against the mesh manufacturer, American Medical Systems and many of those defective product lawsuits name the Monarc.

(The transvaginal sling is used to treat incontinence (stress urinary incontinence or SUI) where the bladder or urethra sag a bit allowing urine to leak.  Sometimes it’s put in prophylactically after a hysterectomy, “just in case” the woman experiences incontinence.  As a result, women of all ages have been implanted with “slings”  “hammock” or “tape” the soft sell descriptions of mesh made by seven manufacturers.)

This woman is beginning to have pain.   She wonders whether she will have a sex life again. She is in her 40’s.  She is being advised to wait a bit as post-surgical pain is common, but still, she is beginning to worry.  I tell her not to worry now, just be mindful, wait about six weeks as the doctor says to do.  Maybe she will be one of the lucky ones. Mesh implants do work for the majority of women, maybe about 70%. At least in the short run.  No one has studied why, when mesh goes wrong as it does in a percentage of women, it goes very wrong.

I asked her, with all the information out there on social media and the internet, (this site included) what was she told to convince her to take the chance?

The doctor, who is apparently very well respected, said her Monarc was not the mesh that was included in the lawsuits.  Besides, his wife had a sling to treat SUI and she is fine.

Is he aware as of today there are 19,698 product liability/ defective product lawsuits filed against AMS and more than 100,000 lawsuits filed against seven mesh makers?  In response, AMS took its Perigee and Apogee meshes off the market.

And in case a doctor tells you that there is no problem with “slings,” the smaller meshes used to treat incontinence, the lawsuits do not distinguish between mesh for POP (pelvic organ prolapse) SUI (stress urinary incontinence) or between TVT (transvaginal tape) or TVT-O (transvaginal tape obturator).  See the So. District of West Virginia (here) where the cases have been consolidated. Monarc is among those cases called a defective product by plaintiffs and their law firms.

Were you told in two separate trials, (Linda Batiste and Jo Huskey) the TVT-O (Johnson & Johnson brand) has been found defectively designed? These were meshes made by Ethicon, a division of Johnson & Johnson, but the TVT-O placement (which Monarc is) passes through the large obturator space where your leg connects to the groin. The obturator space contains eight layers of muscle and tissue. When there are complications, as there are in about 30% of the cases, this is delicate surgery fraught with potential problems. Each layer has the potential to produce scar tissue which can shrink and contract, causing immense pain with every movement. Because it is nearly impossible to remove safely, the design of a TVT-O (J&J) has been found to be defective.

The trials so far have shown us that manufacturers never prepared for that outcome, even thought it was likely it could happen. Early on, companies saw foreign body reaction, infection, chronic pain. They did nothing to address that, likely because it would have meant their product couldn’t make it to market.

I asked her if she was told it’s made of polypropylene.  Yes, she said.  But polypropylene (PP) is not exactly a household name the public has heard such as cyanide, benzene, biphenols or formaldehyde. It’s polypropylene, most commonly seen as the fabric used on indoor-outdoor rugs.

Was she told a percentage of women are developing autoimmune issues following their implant?  We know from trials that the body incites a foreign body response to mesh implants and among the results are fibromyalgia, rashes, joint pain, and lupus. Anecdotally, at least, there are more cases than could be considered a coincidence. Yet no one is studying the possible link.

Ask your doctor about his relationship with industry. Is he or she a “preceptor,” another word for a teacher of other medical professionals.  Does he consult and/or give lectures on behalf of the company? Is he paid to travel to nice places to attend weekend cadaver clinics where he can learn about the latest and greatest innovations in pelvic medical device implants? How much has he made from this relationship?

Why does he think AMS has put aside more than $1.6 billion, part of a master settlement to settle mesh-injury cases? See the story here.

And despite the effective campaigns calling lawyers ambulance chasers and women looking for a “payday,” these are real injuries causing chronic and debilitating pain, ongoing infections, an inability to function, to have sexual relations or to keep a job. Women are losing their income, their husbands and their homes. Many have expressed a desire to end this post mesh “life.”  I’ve heard so often the mesh implant was the worst decision of their life.

Your doctor is apparently caught up with the “good doctors don’t have complications” mindset. Too often, a woman will not return to the doctor who is denying her pain is mesh-related. She seeks help elsewhere. The physician can then claim he doesn’t have complications, which is what he tells his patients.

Even the medical society, the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS), does not call the TVT-O the “gold standard.” That is reserved for the TVT, because at least it can be somewhat removed when complications arise (by an expert at removals, not your corner gynecologist) . Why didn’t he use a TVT?  Is he able to do a Burch Procedure, which is using stitches to shore up the prolapse?  What does he think about the Burch or about using your own fascia to create a biologically compatible sling?

Hopefully, this woman will be okay however, University of California urologist, Dr. Shlomo Raz, long regarded as a mesh removal expert, says he is seeing mesh complications a decade or so after an implant.  No one really understands the long-term complication rate. No one knows how to safely remove mesh to 100% satisfaction. Likely there is no such thing.

Were you told all of this as part of true informed consent?

Of course raising all this will set off your doctor. He will label you as litigious and will likely will turn you away as a patient.

Good luck. I do not with you any complications but an easy outcome. I happens for many and I hope you are one of them.

I’m sorry you were not a truly informed patient. ” #

 

35 Comments

  1. Hal Lewis says:

    I think it is fair and logical to say that NOBODY who has ever had Mesh inserted into their body was given a REAL informed consent like the one given here! That’s the true sad part.

  2. anonymous says:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22578730

    one only needs to read this article just plain as day to both attorneys and the companies out there that say mesh is not dangerous

  3. Shirley says:

    http://www.drugwatch.com/manufacturer/johnson-and-johnson/

    Or read this article about J&J for even today they still upholding their repuitation and staying strong with believing their products are the best in the world. What is a shame is they claim over 300,000 implants of the Mesh in 2010 alone cannot hold much water too only a few who claim they have defective devices. They made Billions over the last 13 years and yet they claim there is but a few posibly defective (Because remind you they don`t admit guilt in any defective design evn after they have recalled some of their products on market. We are reminded of this nightmare because Doctors only listen to the representatives and the women they see as a patient get advise that they are just going through menapause and their aches and pains well they feel thats just part of our whinning you could say. They provide us with scripts (take these pills) but yet one`s for pain even though they tell you your just a whinner who loves to complain. I say whatever then I look for a different Doctor til I find one who understands. What is really bad is what if most of them implants is not included in the MDL and they are in the State Courts all around the world and this is what is making it so complicated for them too settle. Hey J& J we are not whinners we are victims of your products we are the ones suffering not our attorneys not our doctors. We are and so is our family members because our lives have been shatttered by this.

  4. Richard Howden aka All Meshed Up says:

    Spot on, Jane, spot on! To many of us have been through this scenario whether Gynecological or Hernia Mesh receipients. My Prolene Mesh was implanted in Nov. of 2006 and the Dr ( Dr. Richard Holmes, now in Albuquerque) NEVER mentioned fixing my very small inguinal hernia with Mesh. Even if he had told me that he was going to use mesh, I had no knowledge of nor had even heard of Surgical Mesh. 14 months later, 50 pounds lighter and near death, an Emergency Room Surgeon who examined me, told me straight out, “You have to get that Mesh out and I know how to do it.” I literally cried on the exam table because I had found someone who knew about Mesh complications and apparently was aware how to remove it. Little did I know that 3 days later I would be rid of the J&J Prolene but was now the “proud” owner of a Bard/Kugel Hernia Patch with ring that he said he “had” to use to fix the hole and repair the Hernia. That Dr.’s name is Dr. Steven Sawyer and he lost his surgical privledges in Montrose Co. 3 or 4 years later because of excessive infection rate and Medical Device failures that had more to do with Lap-Band surgery than Mesh. I wanted to check on that with the Montrose Hospital but was told by the women there, who had been there 24 years, that she had “No knowledge of any Surgical Mesh failures” while she had been there. I introduced myself to her as her first Mesh Injured.

    All of that is history now. But what I did find after searching my medical records was that the fact that the Prolene Mesh was balled up, twisted, had broken apart and almost killed me was NO WHERE TO BE FOUND IN MY RECORDS! And that my Friends is one of the reasons I could not get a Lawyer to represent me. How many of you have similar instances in your Medical Records I wonder? And why, if I was so terribly sick from this Medical Device gone bad, was the Manufacturer, the FDA or even the Hospital notified? Because then they all would have to get involved and that may mean legal proceedings that none of them wanted to participate in no matter the consequences to the Patient. And that should be criminal……….

  5. Mary blanks says:

    Richard you are so right. After being told I had the joy 2 months to live, I requested my records there was no mention of my death sentence, no mention of the mesh all they had were my test results where my white blood cells were 3X greater than the red which meant an infection was killing me. My organ function was all compromised. I have a great primary care dr , but none of them deal with the fact that every time I art of me was compromised my this mesh. It is so frustrating. We have no idea what our future physical condition will be ! No one knows how to prevent any further health problems we are facing because of this mesh. But still we must fight!

  6. Mary blanks says:

    Jane great article!

  7. Bejah says:

    Dear Richard, Thank you for sharing this heart wrenching story. You are so brave. I can not discuss my case but I can tell you that hospitals do alter medical records. The only reason I have my original pre alteration records is because I went to see a Urologist in the year after I was implanted (Do not recall the month) and he requested my file from medical records at the hospital as part of the normal process of taking on a new patient. Three years later I requested my file when I realized I was a victim of this. I eventually compared the two and so clearly saw the alterations. It sounds like this is what happened to you. They do it all the time. I expect it has gotten so there are no true medical records because they have them “cleaned” as a precaution right away. My mothers medical records were also altered at the hospital where she died. I did not have the money to file a suit in that case. The same thing happened to my neighbors mother, and to my Neurologist’s wife when she was having their first child. Doctors do not work for the hospitals we must remember, also but nurses do and I have come to believe they are the eyes and ears of hospital administrators and so I limit my conversations with them. It may come to pass that there is a way out of this for you. Try to have faith, no matter what. Believe in miracles.

    Bejah

  8. Dorothy says:

    Richard, my implant was in November 2006 also. Because I’d been having bladder infections my daughter suggested I see her OBGYN. I had watched him deliver all three of her children so I trusted him. That 1st appointment I noticed he had a new title, a urogenocaligest. He showed me a short video and told me not to worry about anything, he’d fix me right up. I had no leakage. Problems started that very night in the hospital and he refused to acknowledge anything was wrong. I really didn’t understand what he had put in me, but it was the Monarch, the apogee and the perogee SMS. IN 2009 I found a Dr who cut a bandage size piece of the Monarch out because it felt like I was getting a wedgie, he left the arms in. Last July I had one surgical team remove the apogee, another team removed the pedigree. Those surgeries took the tight feeling away but left 7 more arms behind. One arm had not clicked in but buckled back making the whole thing pull cockeyed, was all folded over itself. The top part was all balled up, Dr said it was the worst she’d ever seen. Of course there was foreign body cell reaction. The arm that didn’t click in grew into the vaginal wall and repair was done there. The worst thing was my urethra was grown solid to the tissue behind it and even though the Dr cut it loose in 2009 it’s grown in again. I’ve been categorizing sense summer of 2007 and no sexual activity for 8 1/2 years. This and more was in my report’s and explained so much. All because I was having bladder infections. He may have found pop and us I when he went in but it’s not worth all the pain I’ve gone through, somewhat better now, never be the same again and don’t know what the arms will do. Thanks for listening.

    • Bejah says:

      Dorothy, I expect there is a lot of value in journaling, in documenting our lives as mesh damaged human beings. The future may bring a day when the light of truth shines on all of this and we may be able to contribute our journal entries if we wish, or legal action may be taken that would benefit plaintiffs or (I wish) criminal complaints filed by the Federal Government, or a powerful NGO, etc. In any event do not throw away your notes, records, or anything related to this. Keep it all in a box in the attic or garage with moth balls for as long as you can just in case. Remember “Hope springs eternal”. I do not know why I can remember quotes but not the person who uttered them! Another that seems appropro (sp??) now is one of my favorites and if anyone knows who should be credited please let us know: “The truth shall be revealed in the end”. I guess that begs the question(s)….(1) How do we define “end”, and (2) How are we defining truth.

      Should your husband have his own tissue used in his surgery? Is it possible? The evil doers tell potential victims of new and improved mesh and who knows what else. I will NEVER believe them. Sometimes if someone betrays our trust we can forgive them and give them another chance, sometimes we can forgive them but walk away and sometimes we find it hard to forgive at all.

      Hope all goes well for your amily. At least now you (and we) have knowledge and “Knowledge is power”. Well, I must stop chattering and go plant my spring bulbs and seeds since I bought the potting soil yesterday…no more excuses and here it is starting to really warm up so one needs to plant early in the morning or evening. Even my dogs are staying inside in the day. I have resisted turning on the AC and will try to hold out until June. Imagine what it was like before electricity, how did humanity survive? Sometimes I think about what a miracle it is that we are here at all. How many of our ancestors had to survive in order for us to be alive, Wow. That thought helps me find gratitude for each day no matter what.

      Bejah

  9. Dorothy says:

    Spelling mistakes AMS, Perigee, SUI

  10. stopmeshimplants says:

    And these stories go on and on. Every single person harmed by mesh needs to share their stories with everyone in their email address books. All contacts need to know and understand the harm done to our bodies by all mesh products. You will be shocked at how many people you may help by telling your story before they have this awful surgery. I promise. And encourage them to send their email on to all of their contacts. The internet is a powerful tool. We have to personalize this and reach out to the masses of people who do not frequent these supportive sites. Thank you, Jane. You are such a blessing in my life.

  11. Karen says:

    Thank you Jane !!! I can’t thank you enough !!!!

  12. Dorothy says:

    I can’t believe this. My husband just returned from his last appointment at the Nephrology Center. The Dr gave him three choices for treatment of a rupture of his kidney is mesh, his own skin from his bottom, or live with it. When he asked the Dr about the mesh he was told that it wasn’t the same mesh that is causing problems with the women transvaginal surgerys. Even though he’s been with me through all my problems he still was unsure of the truth. I brought him up to speed Richard but I’m going to have him read some of you’re early info. Unbelievable

    • Bejah says:

      Dorothy, Maybe a “second opinion” is in order. If you can self refer to a highly regarded expert Urologist or Urogynecologist even if you have to pay for the evaluation…it may be worth it. Sorry you are experiencing this. When two members of a family are having similar issues on one hand it makes it harder, on the other you have someone there who understands…

      Bejah

  13. kim says:

    Dr. Raz and his team have started to do research on the autoimmune disease and the connection to polypropylene mesh.

  14. kim says:

    further I believe Monarch has now been taken off the market.

    • Jane Akre says:

      Kim- a quick search reveals Monarc is very much still on the market AND still being used in women. Here is the link
      https://americanmedicalsystems.com/en/patients/women/female-incontinence/treatments/monarc-subfascial-hammock.html

      • Dawn says:

        I have been invited by mail to a free seminar, sponsored by AMS , to hear about all the wonderful advantages of mesh brought by my implanting Dr.

        Would our website lawyer, Mr. Hal Lewis , have some free advice for me ?

        I was wondering where my legal right would stand on peacefully protesting and handing out flyers at this venue? I feel the ladies need to know all their options.. I wish I had known.

        • Jane Akre says:

          Is it a public place or a hotel conference room? That’s a public place. You can do whatever you like. Check out the recording laws in your state… if there is little expectation of privacy you can even record. I just attended one with the son of a mesh injured woman who committed suicide. Inside the informational packet he slipped an envelope with “Learn More, visit Meshnewsdesk.com” The presenter doctor never knew he did that!!! The women all walked away with the other side of the story. It can be done respectfully and with little fanfare. Another woman attended one of these sessions and openly asked questions to provide more informed consent. She left after she opened the door to the other side of the story. Let us know what happens!!

  15. Dorothy says:

    Thanks you Bejah for your kind words. I didn’t even think of a second opinion. He’s 76 and strong like a bull but this rupture keeps him from doing much. We just have to do the best we can, both of us.

  16. justme says:

    Someone mentioned above that nurses were possibly the eyes and ears of the hospital. So is your local pharmacy tech and pharmacist. They are the biggest informant in your life. Don’t talk to them or tell them anything that is not rx related. Mom & Pop’s are the worse. Stay with a chain pharmacy if possible. Some of them are really bad people and you would have no way of knowing this. Some get paid by selling your info from the database, reporting you anonymously to police, to medical records companies, to the drug reps, and others will work for the mesh companies and will report what you say to them, and they will add notes to your files, and they will gossip about everything they see and hear. Limit what you say to them. That is why the attorneys put the gag order in place. You can’t trust anyone. HIPPA means nothing to them. I write this from experience, not hearsay. All about the Benjamin’s.

  17. justme says:

    This is a true story and was witnessed by a very reliable source. It can be proven as true, with out a doubt.

    A man came by to see his wife at work last week. He was in tears. She went outside with him for privacy. When she came back in, she was visibly upset. The employees waited for her to talk and asked her no questions. She said her husband was at work when he received a call from his doctor’s office, stating the insurance company had denied his claim for mesh removal surgery. He was so certain due to the serious complications he is experiencing, that he could have the mesh removed and the insurance would pay for it.

    He is young and the mesh has ruined his life and his wife’s life and his family. He is in pain, same as us women.

    The insurance company stated that his claim was not the same thing as the women who are having difficulty with mesh.

    When I heard about this, I was so upset and emotional, and I do not know this man or his family.

    Isn’t mesh still mesh and pain is pain, and complications happen for both sexes?

    Why won’t the insurance companies stop mesh from being implanted when they all know it is a serious health risk? They are just as much to blame, because most people could not afford the surgery without the help of insurance. And most people believe that if insurance says it is ok, that it must be a safe surgery, right?

    It is so sad the way we treat each other for money and or power.

    Thank you for the article Jane. Nothing has changed. I have a new doctor that said horrific things to me last week about me and mesh. I was so upset that I had a meltdown in front of him. They choose what they want to believe.

    • Bejah says:

      JM, Thanks for sharing this story. I am sure it will help us all better understand the complexities we are coping with. I wish you could share with us what the doctor said to you. Sometimes I wonder if a DO might be better than an MD and this year I changed my primary to a DO. That poor man. Where will he turn now, appeal process, which in my personal experience is a sham. The doctors I have seen about this have sometimes had emotionally charged and extreme reactions, sometimes as if I had Ebola or some off world infestation. Remember the “black oil” from the SCI FI TV series. Hope you have recovered…steel yourself against this kind of response.

      Bejah

  18. Me says:

    The court schedule says only concerning C.R. Bard. On it for June 6 does anyone know why? I was told it was regarding all of them!?

    • msm says:

      But June 6 is a Saturday. Hmmm… Maybe it’s just an error. I noticed they have listed all the MDL’s under In re: C.R. Bard for the June 2nd meeting. I would guess it is just because Bard is the first MDL numerically and alphabetically.

      This probably wasn’t what you were referring to.But, it will be interesting to see what (if anything) comes from the status conference on 6/2.

  19. Me says:

    Any idea why we aren’t hearing about the trial with Boston scientific going on right now?

  20. jan says:

    I couldn’t get mine either after a few years trying. Hospital where the surgery was done has the sticker sheets an info of the surgery all in a report. Costs alittle change but there is where u find the info of what u need.

  21. jan says:

    Where is it that we can read what’s going on in the trails. I’m not getting anything but old stuff. And I hope An pray for us all too get a large settlement. We all can’t hold dr. Or hospitals for damages now. This was a Saratoga on us men an women. They knew. How does a Dr. don’t know that device was recalled an still put it in. I’m more than upset facing death if I don’t get help. I can’t even begin. Keep up pushing this people we are in trouble because of get rich quick shit. Angered

  22. jan says:

    Where is it that we can read what’s going on in the trails. I’m not getting anything but old stuff. And I hope An pray for us all too get a large settlement. We all can’t hold dr. Or hospitals for damages now. This was a Sabotaged on us men an women. They knew. How does a Dr. don’t know that device was recalled an still put it in. I’m more than upset facing death if I don’t get help. I can’t even begin. Keep up pushing this people we are in trouble because of get rich quick shit. Angered

  23. mommy of 3 says:

    BRAVO!!

  24. Toni says:

    Hate to say this Jan but I think these company would just assume we die as to pay us for their faulty mesh that they dam well knew was going to cause issues in many many many women. All we can do is try to unite and get this horror story on a main stream media. Not lawyers looking for paydays but all of us as one big mouthpiece. They want to sweep it under the rug and go clear through the trial and then offer a settlement based on no admission of guilt and hush money for the injured. Well the courts are being used as puppets for these corp. This will go on as long as they want until the judges and us as the injured stand up. What do you think would happen if they had 100 k women show up don’t you think we would get some attn. then. Media is our best friend bad publicity for these coward manufacturers . Why is it not all over the news because big Pharma has the media in their pockets to. Advertizing dollars at stake. So sick and mad over this whole thing. I have removal surgery on sat. Hope I am well enough to make the trip. But doughtful by june 2nd. Maybe with a wheel chair and a catheter.

  25. Lea says:

    I had a monarch sling implanted 6-11 at the time of my hysterectomy and within the first week was experiencing abdominal pain –my gynecologist said she couldn’t understand why I was having pain and had me complete a colonoscopy–when the pain did not subside by 11-11 I went back to the urologist who told me the mesh was okay and didn’t understand my pain –I questioned him about the lawyers ads on TV and he also told me the mesh he installed was not part of any lawsuit –the pain continued but in 2014 the UTI’s started –I have had 3 since 9-14 and I bladder infection and several fungal infections –since then I started to research the Internet,the various cases and noticed that the recent award against Boston scientific in Delaware–part of the plaintiffs case was the material safety data sheet (MSDS) states that the rain is not to be used in making implantable medical devices —I emailed the lawyers representing many of us against AMS asking for a coy of the MSDS the AMS would have received from their manufacturer of their raw material –the call back I got tonight said that I needed to wait for settlement paperwork –I told them I had no intention of signing settlement paperwork unless I saw a copy of the MSDS– the lead law firm in this settlement(I understand) is the same one –motley who just won the Boston scientific case with that document as one of their presentations –I would like to know if the AMS plaintiffs are getting sold down the river rather than having their day in court –this information if applicable to AMS is a game changer. I’m so sorry that there is anyone out there still being given a monarch sling and all I can say is run to the best doctor you can find to get it removed before the symptoms become worse

    • Jane Akre says:

      One of the biggest lies doctors continue to tell is “The mesh is not the same” Really? Ask- Is it polypropylene? Ask to see the package. Ask if he is aware that many meshes have been found defective in their design and doctors who use them have been found guilty of medical malpractice. See what he/she says then.

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