I recently read Rita Rubin’s article “Risky pelvic mesh highlights worries about FDA process.” Ms. Rubin’s article brings light to an issue that has been putting women at risk throughout the United States. I represent one of these women; here’s a snapshot of her story regarding severe complications to vaginal mesh, which has ruined her life.
My client, whom I’ll call Jane, had vaginal mesh surgically placed in her body in March 2008, to treat female urinary incontinence. Jane was in her mid forties at the time. Soon after the mesh placement, Jane began experiencing pain in her vaginal area. She continued to see her physicians, but the pain got worse over time. Her physician repeatedly told her that she had to give it time to heal. But one year after her surgery the physician attempted to remove the mesh from her body. But the mesh had eroded into her vaginal area, bladder and pelvic region. Jane has undergone four major surgeries to date to have the fragmented mesh picked out of her body bit by bit. She still needs future surgeries to continue going after the left over mesh inside her body.
As a result of her injuries, Jane is in constant pain. She had to quit her job because she was (and is) no longer able to work. Jane was a nurse, earning around $80,000 per year before the mesh was placed in her body. All of her friends and family say she was a hard worker and enjoyed her work. In addition, Jane’s mobility has been severally compromised. She feels pain if she stands, sits or lies down.
Jane has been frustrated during the past few years because there did not seem to be anyone paying attention to the danger of vaginal mesh. She has also been frustrated because modern medicine has not figured out a way to get all the eroded mesh out of her body. Finally, she’s frustrated because the manufacturer of the mesh has, to date, declined to take responsibility for her injuries.
Since 2008 the FDA has issued at least two Public Health Notifications—one in October 2008 and the most recent in July 2011. It appears the public spotlight is finally on the serious complications associated with surgical mesh. (The surgical mesh is commonly referred to as pelvic or vaginal mesh and bladder slings, which are manufactured by at least four different companies.)
Currently, Jane’s trial against the manufacturer of the vaginal mesh is set for January 2012. It is my hope a jury of Jane’s peers will hold the manufacturer responsible for her injuries—something the manufacturer is unwilling to take responsibility for at this time.