As lawsuits continue to be filed against hernia mesh manufacturers, one patient is about to undergo her ninth surgery to undo the damage caused by the mesh.
Carmen Pacheco of Georgetown, Texas, suffered for years after her hernia repair process. The problems triggered by the mesh implanted into her during the procedure caused financial and emotional stress for her and her family.
Pacheco and her medical team opted for the mesh implant because the product was marketed to last longer and cost less. It’s an alternative to traditional hernia repair surgery, but one that many doctors are no longer using because of the risk.
Some of those doctors are concerned that patients are not having the risks properly explained to them before opting to undergo mesh implantation. Many don’t even think patients know there is an alternative procedure to repair a hernia. Not to mention there are very few surgeons who perform the traditional tissue repair procedure. Many patients are encouraged to get mesh because that’s the only way their doctors know how to remedy the problem.
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health under Fire for Underestimating Problems with Hernia Mesh
The Ministry of Health recently launched restorative justice forums for victims and family members to share their experiences with hernia mesh.
The country will be the first in the world to include men in a program such as this.
In just the first three weeks of the program, more than 340 people registered and the forums reached full capacity. Many believe the Ministry originally only planned for 180 and grossly underestimated how bad the problem is with hernia mesh problems.
Some believe it’s a start, but many New Zealanders negatively impacted by hernia mesh won’t have a chance to share their stories.
Manufacturers Claim Hernia Mesh Failure Rate Much Lower than Reality
Not everyone experiences complications from mesh surgery, but there are enough that do that the efficacy of mesh has been called into question. Studies show about 15 percent of mesh recipients are at risk of experiencing pain. One to two percent of them suffers so much they opt to have the mesh removed.
There are also concerns in the medical community over the way mesh manufacturers have handled the risks associated with their product. Many believe enough is not being done to inform patients.
It has also been pointed out that it’s the mesh companies that are producing literature and information about the safety and effectiveness of the mesh. Many of the studies claiming that mesh has a lower failure rate than traditional hernia surgery are funded by the manufacturers.
Mesh Removal a Risky Option for Relieving Pain
Patients, including Pacheco, find their discomfort is alleviated after having the mesh removed but the recovery process can take a long time. The process itself is also time-consuming and complicated, so it’s not a procedure patients should take lightly. Unlike traditional hernia repair, many surgeons don’t even know how to perform a retrieval procedure, so they tell patients they must live with the pain.
In Pacheco’s case, the removal of the mesh caused her to lose 100 pounds and to accumulate medical bills that have changed her financial situation forever. She and her family were forced to move from their home into one that was smaller and less expensive.
Most manufacturers of hernia mesh are involved in numerous lawsuits. To date, no settlements have been reached in any of the active hernia mesh lawsuits, but there have been several recalls of specific hernia mesh products. Ethicon, one of the most well-known mesh manufacturers, was ordered to pay $20 million in damages in 2017 to a New Jersey woman injured by her mesh implant.
To read more about Pacheco’s story, check out KVUE, Austin’s ABC local affiliate.