Why Have Incontinence Negligence Compensation Claims Soared?
One of the biggest recent stories in the world of medical negligence claims is for failing treatment for incontinence in women. A BBC report found that more than 800 women are claiming compensation from the NHS and the manufacturers of the different types of vaginal mesh used in the treatment, described by one of the victims as “barbaric”.
Injuries sustained include internal cuts, vaginal wall erosion, infection and intense and debilitating pain which has prevented women from living a normal life.
Vaginal mesh is used in the treatment of pelvic organ prolapse after childbirth. The mesh is inserted and used as a sling to support the bladder, uterus and urethra, and help prevent incontinence. The mesh is made from polypropylene plastic, and there are around 100 different brands of mesh known to be used in the UK.
NHS England records show that, in an eight-year period between April 2007 and March 2015, over 92,000 women underwent a vaginal mesh implant. No surgery is without risk so does 800 out of 92,000 women (0.008%) indicate a problem? The victims and their medical negligence solicitors certainly think so.
There is nothing new about using mesh to treat prolapse. It has been utilised for the treatment of hernias since the 1950s, and in the repair of pelvic organ prolapse since the 1970s. It is not only the quality of the mesh that has caused issues but how it is implanted. For example, a study by Visco identified that there were more issues when the mesh was implanted via the vagina rather than through an incision in the abdomen.
There have been discussions about the safety of the procedure for some time. In June 2014, the Scottish health secretary recommended their use be stopped, however as of December 2016, a further 400 women in Scotland have had either mesh or tape implanted. It has led to the formation of Scottish Mesh Survivors, an organisation started by two women who suffered life-changing injuries as the result of their mesh implants and who were determined to make sure no more women suffered.
One of the biggest victories won by Scottish Mesh Survivors is the stricter protocol around gaining informed consent from patients. Surgeons are responsible for ensuring that their patients are fully informed of all risks associated with a particular treatment, as well as any alternative solutions and potentially adverse effect. Not obtaining informed consent from a patient who later suffers illness or injury is grounds for a valid compensation claim.
Negligent vaginal mesh implants in the US have reached an estimated £2 billion. With the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency apparently having received 1,000 complaints to date, and the resulting publicity encouraging more women to come forward, it can be assumed that this area of medical negligence compensation claims is one that will continue to grow.
If you would like to talk to a legal expert, then feel free to contact The Medical Negligence Experts here.