7 Aug 2018

Surgical mesh registry on way, no temporary ban

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 7 August 2018

A patient group is claiming a partial victory in their campaign against the harm caused by surgical mesh


Surgery Photo: 123RF

Government agencies agreed at a meeting with campaigners late last week to work towards setting up a registry to record the use of surgical mesh - as a temporary measure.

On Thursday, the advocacy group Mesh Down Under - met with the Ministry of Health, ACC, the Health and Disability Commission, the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists - and others - calling for an interim suspension of surgical mesh for the treatment of stress urinary incontinence.

But no agreement was made about the campaigners' plea to temporarily stop the use of the medical devices all together.

ACC figures show a 34 percent increase in mesh-related claims in the last financial year.

These claims could be reduced if mesh surgery was paused, Mesh Down Under's co-founder Patricia Sullivan said.

"The costs are horrendous to patients, their families, to New Zealand and the health system," she said.

"The medical devices are questionable if they cause that much damage."

Ms Sullivan said patient selection and surgeon skills were also factors that need monitoring.

The meeting between the various parties came on the heels of moves by the English, Welsh and Irish governments to temporarily suspend their use there.

The chief medical officer at the Ministry of Health, Andrew Simpson, said the meeting last Thursday was productive and "there was a lot of agreement on the way forward".

In December, Medsafe announced it would limit the supply of some mesh products for use in pelvic organ prolapse, while some other mesh devices were required to have their product information updated to include adverse side effects including:  "severe chronic pain", "groin pain", and "bladder perforation".

Those products are still on the market, but  Dr Simpson said Medsafe has taken the strongest action possible under the current laws.

"A ban is not possible under the current legislation," he said.

But this could change under the Therapeutic Products Bill, he said.

The deputy commissioner for the Health and Disability Commission, Rose Wall, said a careful approach was needed.

"For some patients who are offered mesh care have good outcomes; for those who have complications, the effects can be profound."

Ms Wall said the complaints related to a number of matters, including issues of information and around the consent process.

"The work to develop a register, the work being done around care and treatment pathways will only strengthen the protections in place," she said.

"We should give the ministry some time to review what the group talked about on Thursday," she said.

Patricia Sullivan was happy for the issues to be "carefully worked through".

The Associate Health Minister is expected to sign off on the registry shortly.