Surgical mesh has been widely used since the late 1950s to treat a range of medical conditions including hernias, urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. While the vast majority of patients who are treated using a vaginal mesh implant make a complete recovery, in some cases, the mesh causes internal physical damage. For those who have suffered serious health complications as a result of the use of vaginal mesh tape, it may be possible to make a claim if the damage was the result of medical negligence. A claim can ensure that the matter is properly investigated, and appropriate action taken by the health organisation who was responsible for your care. It may also be possible to seek financial recourse for the pain, suffering, loss of function, and costs incurred as a result of the damage caused.
What is vaginal mesh and why is it used?
Vaginal mesh (also referred to as urogynaecological mesh) has the appearance of netting and comes in a variety of forms, including, tape, ribbon, and a sling.
In the case of vaginal mesh procedures, the mesh is used to support the weight of a pelvic organ (i.e. uterus, bladder, or rectum), which in many women drops out of position, often following childbirth or during menopause. Pelvic organs drop out of their normal position as a result of the weakening of or damage to ligaments and pelvic floor muscles, typically placing pressure on other internal structures. As a result of the sagging/dropping of the pelvic organ, patients can suffer from urinary incontinence, loss of sensation, difficulty urinating, and pain.
The purpose of the mesh is to support the weight of the prolapsed pelvic organ, which the surgeon achieves by suturing or using special tissue fixation devices. This then places the uterus, bladder, or rectum back into its original position, relieving pressure and pain, and allowing normal function.
What can happen if vaginal mesh surgery is not successful?
In some very limited cases, mesh exposure or erosion can occur. Erosion means that the mesh cuts or damages nearby structures including the vaginal wall. This can cause scarring, fistulas, infection, serious tissue damage, pain the back and legs. Due to the nature of the damage caused, treatment can be problematic and can lead to permanent injury. According to the Health Service Executive (HSE), the symptoms of failed vaginal mesh surgery may include:
- Pain that is not improving – low abdominal, pelvic, groin, thigh or buttock pain
- Poking or prickling sensation or spasms in the pelvic area
- You or your sexual partner feeling the mesh through the vaginal wall
- Pain (either you or your sexual partner) during sexual intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
- Difficulty with bladder emptying
- Pain associated with urination
- Recurrent bladder infections
- Abscess or swelling at the mesh insertion or exit site
If you suspect you, or a loved one is showing signs of a possible problem following implantation of surgical mesh, it is important to seek an assessment by an experienced urogynecologist or urologist who specialises in pelvic surgery. There is an established hospital pathway for patients with concerns relating to vaginal mesh complications, and hence your case should be properly and thoroughly assessed.
Can I bring a claim for vaginal mesh complications due to medical negligence?
To bring a claim for damage caused by vaginal mesh medical negligence, it will be necessary to provide evidence that:
- The medical care you received was below a satisfactory standard (i.e. that another medical professional would not have made the same error), and;
- This negligence caused you damage or injury.
To prove your case, we will compile evidence including medical records, and where necessary, seek expert medical opinion.
What may a vaginal mesh medical negligence injury claim cover?
Claims following vaginal mesh medical negligence may cover two areas of loss:
- Pain and suffering due to the injury;
- Specific costs resulting from the injury caused. This may cover costs already incurred, such as transport, accommodation, and medical treatment, and expected future expenses, such as physical therapy and care costs.
The costs you receive will be based on the precise injuries suffered and the circumstances of the case.
How Lavelle Partners’ Medical Negligence Solicitors can assist you in bringing a claim
- Lavelle Partners have successfully managed many cases of vaginal mesh medical negligence.
- Our personal injury team, headed by partner, Avril Scally, who herself has over 15 years’ experience in medical negligence claims, place client care at the centre of everything they do.
- From the first moment you speak to one of our Solicitors, we will listen to your case carefully and with empathy and will only recommend advancing your case if we believe you have a valid case.
- We have both the legal expertise and understanding of the real-life challenges faced by individuals and their families following such events.
- Our Solicitors will manage the process entirely on your behalf; compiling the information necessary for your case, including medical notes and managing the submission of your medical negligence claim.
By allowing us to handle your claim on your behalf, you can focus on what is most important, your recovery and care, or that of your family member or loved one.
For further information on making a claim for injury resulting from vaginal mesh medical negligence in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800 or email Avril Scally at [email protected]