Southern patients suffering complications from surgical
mesh will be represented at Parliament's health select
committee today in Wellington, where advocates will urge the
Government to launch an independent inquiry.
Mesh Down Under founder Carmel Berry, of Auckland, told the
Otago Daily Times this week the group had six
Because of the sensitivity of the issue, none wanted to speak
The group is demanding action on harmful and painful
long-term complications caused by surgical mesh used in a
range of procedures, including hernia and pelvic organ
Mrs Berry said its use in pelvic organ work appeared the most
likely to cause complications, and New Zealand should follow
Scotland's recent lead, and place a moratorium on its use in
This was not to play down the ''tragedies'' that had occurred
with mesh work in hernia procedures.
''We are delighted for our mesh sisters in Scotland. When we
heard this news, we hoped that it would add urgency to our
Like Scotland, we also know that in New Zealand there is a
great disparity between adverse event reporting and the
number of actual people suffering.
It is an important issue that we will highlight for the
committee,'' Mrs Berry said.
There was no database or register of complication reports,
and it was unknown how many patients had been harmed.
Mrs Berry's group had been lobbying the Government for up to
two years, continually receiving ''fob-off letters'' that
promised ongoing monitoring.
Mrs Berry was harmed by the mesh during a hysterectomy for
uterine prolapse in 2004.
She has chronic pain and nerve damage. While part of the mesh
had been subsequently removed, she had been told she risked
serious damage to her bladder if an attempt was made to
remove the rest.
Safety authority Medsafe did not appear to have an
understanding of the situation, Mrs Berry said.
It had received only about 60 complaints or notifications of
surgical mesh harm in total, and there was a ''huge gap''
between Medsafe figures and actual events.
The extent was unknown, but as an indication ACC figures show
it issued 77 decisions on surgical mesh claim cases between
July 1 last year and May 31.
Many of the harmed patients were older women, and some would
suffer in silence, or not know what caused their
complications, she said.
Medsafe group manager Dr Stewart Jessamine said the authority
continued to monitor the safety of surgical mesh, and would
make a submission to the committee today.
''Surgical mesh is used in both male and female patients for
a range of conditions and, over the past five years,
consideration of the risks and benefits of use of surgical
mesh has been the subject of intense review by a number of
regulatory and professional bodies.
''The conclusion reached by these reviews is that when used
in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, the
benefits of use of surgical mesh (especially when compared to
non-mesh surgical techniques) outweigh the risks.''
Southern District Health Board surgical medical director
Murray Fosbender confirmed surgical mesh continued to be
''All patients are appropriately consented when the
consultant discusses potential complications of the
surgery,'' he said.