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Mesh surgery disasters are a national scandal

12 August 2014

Mesh surgery disasters are a national scandal

The appalling mistreatment of New Zealand women who have undergone disastrous surgery involving the use of mesh is a national scandal which requires immediate action from the authorities, according to Democrats for Social Credit (DSC) leader Stephnie de Ruyter and health spokesman David Tranter.

With the use of mesh being stopped in some countries because of serious questions about its safety nothing less than immediate action is required here as some New Zealand surgeons appear to be ignoring all the warnings.

Besides Mr. Tranter's involvement as an advocate for patients who have suffered terribly from this form of surgery, accounts the DSC has received about patients' experiences make shocking reading.

Concerns being repeatedly raised include that patients are being scheduled for surgery without being informed as to what is going to happen to them so causing real fear and apprehension. One was told that if they decline the operation they would go back into the system and off the waiting lists. The post-operation suffering of these women is absolutely appalling, Mr. Tranter said. The after-effects typically include that physical intimacy with women's partners is rendered impossible while enormous stress is placed on the whole family as the patients suffer debilitating on-going pain.

Where in all this is the Health and Disability Commissioner's code of patients' rights such as the rights to be treated with respect, to dignity and independence, to services of an appropriate standard, to effective communication, to be fully informed, and to make an informed choice and give informed consent?

And where, asks Ms de Ruyter, is the follow-up care? Hospitals appear to be turning a blind eye to what is happening.

One of the organisers of the recent petition to Parliament, Carmel Berry of Mesh Down Under, states:
“Even though there will be a few months gap in proceedings, the mesh issue is still miles ahead of where it was a year ago when our concerns and claims were brushed aside by the various health agencies that we contacted. This committee has really listened and have taken the issue seriously. We are also pleased that ACC, Medsafe and RANZCOG have taken the petition on board and are starting work with the recommended audit, inter-agency communication and discussions about the informed consent processes. Informed consent is the most urgent issue that needs addressing. We are hoping to work directly with these agencies over the coming months to provide a patient perspective. In other words, we have a long way to go”.

One patient told the DSC "My journey with prolapses began after giving birth to my son in 2003. After completing our family In 2008 I had a bladder and bowel prolapse operation, which involved mesh and TVT tape. Unfortunately the mesh eroded out my wall and I had two lots of surgery to trim the eroded mesh back. I got scar tissue from the mesh as well as more erosion. In 2012 I went back to theatre for my 3rd trip to remove the mesh as well as two other procedures. At present my mesh is bunched up on one side. I suffer chronic pain internally, especially when the bladder and bowel are full. I also have pain in the groin. It hurts a lot to bend or walk as well as when walking up stairs. It has also been very frustrating that the DHB tried to block access to my complete patient files. Although I'm scared of my future operation to remove the mesh, I know it's the only way".

The DSC applauds the brave women who have taken this issue to the public and to Parliament as have many groups overseas, but the quoted "long way to go" needs an injection of utmost urgency. The DSC calls on all election candidates - and the public who attend their election meetings - to raise this desperate issue which sees literally hundreds of New Zealand women being put through a process which no human being should have to suffer, Ms de Ruyter concluded.


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