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Missing Surgical Mesh Data Found in ACC System

Wednesday 26 June 2019

ACC has paid out six million dollars in less than a year on surgical mesh injury claims. Instead of contributing to a much-needed surgical mesh register, they decided to buy back guns.

Once again the latest statistics from ACC show a total of cover decisions for surgical mesh-related treatment injuries rise with a whopping 30% increase since the last report published 30 June 2018. This brings the total to 1325 claims by New Zealanders suffering complications from surgical mesh implanted in their bodies.

ACC confirms the new data, released on Friday, and published here: includes 158 new decisions, and 149 previous decisions that were not captured by the original review back in 2014 but which have now been identified through their on-going refinement of data.

The six million spent since the last analysis brings the total costs paid on accepted surgical mesh related claims to $23.6 million.

Patricia Sullivan, co-leader of Mesh Down Under says “Once again we see that the Government’s attempt to limit the surgical mesh injury rate has failed, it seems that more an more people are suffering with mesh-related complications. We are saddened that ACC sees it is as more important to buy back guns, instead of contributing to a national surgical mesh register for all mesh implants which could meaningfully track patient outcomes.”

“If stress urinary incontinence procedure numbers have declined in the public sector and pelvic organ prolapse procedures (using the transvaginal surgical approach) have stopped altogether, surely the costs incurred, and the claims made to ACC would be on a downward trajectory?” Sullivan added, “and when taking into consideration the delay in the onset of some mesh-related symptoms, which evidence has shown can be up to ten years after implantation, it is clear the rise in claims will only continue”

“ACC advised they only receive around 10% of eligible claims, this means there are a whole lot of people out there whose mesh injuries are not accounted for.”

Mesh Down Under recently surveyed their members and it was revealed that 20% of those that responded had not yet submitted a claim to ACC.

In a cruel twist of fate last Friday, Mesh Down Under was alerted by one of its members, who requested his GP to submit a hernia mesh injury claim to ACC, and was told by the GP that they don’t normally bother submitting hernia claims because most hernia mesh claims are declined.

Not only is this statement concerning, but also the fact that the ‘Provider’ local mesh registers that all of the DHBs are supposed to collecting data for, does not include hernia mesh procedures. Men suffering with hernia complications make up 90% of all ACC hernia claims submitted.

Recently the Minister of Health David Clark acknowledged that many New Zealanders had “suffered horrific injuries and debilitation” and stated a full national register was still ‘under consideration’. But Sullivan is skeptical as this has been ‘under consideration’ since 2016.

Although the ministry is currently in talks with Australia about joining in with their register, this would only be a female pelvic floor mesh registry and is unlikely to include private hospital statistics.

Mesh Down Under believes all people undergoing mesh procedures need to be identified and monitored. As far as they and the relevant medical colleges are concerned the provider register was only ever an interim solution, and a full national surgical mesh register is absolutely needed.

Mesh Down Under hopes Labour, who campaigned for a national mesh register to be implemented before coming into power, keeps their promise. The government have stated their main aim is to limit the risk of harm for patients undergoing surgical mesh procedures.

These new ACC figures show that this is clearly not working.


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