24 Oct 2017

Health Ministry agrees to further action on surgical mesh

From Nine To Noon, 9:09 am on 24 October 2017

The Ministry of Health has described the harm caused to hundreds of women from surgical mesh as a "tragedy" and has agreed to look into the costs of a register for the devices. 

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Photo: supplied

Last week, the Ministry - along with the Colleges of Surgeons, the College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and ACC - met with consumer advocacy group Mesh Down Under to discuss the potential dangers of the treatment. 

The devices have seen ACC pay out more than $13 million in injury claims to 810 patients over the last 12 years. 

Some of the injuries include the mesh eroding in the body, binding with other tissue, and causing extreme pain.  

Mesh Down Under has been calling for a register to track all mesh implants.

Ministry senior manager Stewart Jessamine Nine to Noon it had now agreed to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of such a register.

He said a register would help track the proportion of patients with side effects. 

"What we currently have with the ACC and Medsafe data, and the data that has been collected by groups such as Mesh Down Under ... is we know that there is a number of people who have been affected by this with some quite serious side effects," he said. 

"But what we don't know is how many people have had the surgery and not had side effects." 

He said the Ministry wanted to find ways to minimise harm in the future. 

"There's an awful lot of lessons healthcare practitioners, Ministries of Health and agencies such as Medsafe can extract from this tragedy to try and make sure that we are more aware of this going forward." 

"Somewhere down the track another medical device, or another medical treatment, will come along that has the potential to cause harm and we want to have our health reporting, analysis and action systems around these things as finely tuned as possible. 

Dr Jessamine said the Ministry its also agreed to set up a working group to progress the recommendations of the Health Select Committee.