Our client, Yvette, was left with severe incontinence, an inability to have sexual intercourse, and on a cocktail of pain relief drugs after vaginal mesh surgery. One of the major findings of this claim was that Yvette’s form consenting to the procedures had been doctored after she had signed it. The hospital’s version included a cystoscopy and extra risks – including failure, tape erosion, pain, overactive bladder and deep vein thrombosis – which were not on Yvette’s original carbon copy.
Timeline of events
Aged 45 at the time, Yvette visited her GP after developing lower abdominal discomfort and increased urination frequency, causing anxiety around drinking fluids. Her symptoms were attributed to uterine prolapse and a consultant gynaecologist recommend a vaginal hysterectomy with the insertion of TVT-O mesh.
Post-surgery, Yvette experienced only minor leakage issues during exercise.
When her urinary urge and stress incontinence returned, Yvette visited her GP and the consultant gynaecologist on multiple occasions over the years as her symptoms were gradually getting worse.
Yvette travelled to New Zealand for a work trip, and began to suffer vaginal pain, tenderness and bleeding. A doctor recommended getting her mesh checked out when she returned home.
“This was the first time I realised my symptoms could be related to the sling. Upon my return to the UK, it was suggested that the mesh might have started to erode into the vaginal wall. I was shocked to hear this information as I had no idea such complications could happen.”
“It felt like I had been hit between the legs with a lump of concrete. Every time I went to A&E, I was told no one could treat me. They didn’t know what to do. The mesh was designed to be a permanent device and very few clinicians were prepared to attempt its removal as the skills weren’t there. When approving the mesh, no one thought past the procedure.”
The mesh was fully removed following a private referral to the Spire Bristol Hospital. However, Yvette continues to suffer with urge and faecal incontinence, as well as chronic vaginal, lower back and bowel pain. Yvette’s ordeal prompted her to establish the Mashed up by Mesh support group, providing a platform for other victims to speak about their experiences. Yvette was also invited to speak on behalf of the group during the Cumberlege review, which found a culture of denial by a disjointed and defensive healthcare system entrenched in institutional misogyny.
Our client’s own words
“There was a medical appointment I attended where a consultant told me there was so much information about mesh negligence in the press that if I read it enough, I’d start to believe it was happening to me. It’s medical gaslighting, and there are so many women out there who are currently fighting for their pain and suffering to be acknowledged.
“Women are scared of being judged, shut down and disbelieved. I know plenty who have been brow beaten by the whole litigation process – they have been accused of lying and exaggerating, and many feel like throwing the towel in.
“While my case has settled, it has raised questions about individual responsibility and accountability. The trust has been held liable but, as far as I’m aware, the consultants themselves have not faced any personal consequences. While their life continues, I am dealing with the aftermath of their mistakes without any opportunity to confront them directly about the harm they have caused. There is a need for personal ramifications – without them, repetitious behaviour will not be discouraged.”
A note from Neil Clayton
“For years, women have been given the option of surgical mesh insertion as a solution for prolapse and incontinence. As a result, many women have found themselves in excruciating pain from mesh that has eroded, contracted and protruded into other areas of the body.
“The gynaecologist proceeded to surgery prematurely before exhausting all behavioural and medical options. She failed to offer our client any lifestyle interventions, such as caffeine reduction or fluid management, or bladder training. Furthermore, she carried out the wrong operation for the wrong condition and proceeded to surgery unnecessarily. It is particularly shocking that Yvette signed a consent form that was altered afterwards to include risks she was never made aware of.
“There is a real lack of knowledge when it comes to mesh and those affected are made to feel like the pain they are going through and the symptoms they are experiencing are not bad – there is almost a disbelief from medical experts. This case is another example of doctors deeming to know what is best for women instead of empowering them to make their own choices and decisions.
“No amount of money can fully compensate Yvette for the pain she has suffered and will continue to experience, and the lifelong care she will require, which all stems back to her not requiring mesh in the first place.”
Feedback on our team from Yvette’s husband
“Diligent, circumspect, assiduous and above all, caring. The claim was complicated and a first in the field… it required detailed attention and a clear understanding of what was achievable and what should be fought hard. At all times they listened closely to fears and concerns.”
Contact our medical negligence solicitors
Our specialist team of medical negligence solicitors has experience supporting people who have suffered as a result of vaginal mesh surgery. If you would like to discuss making a claim, please call us on 0808 164 0808 or request a call back and we will call you.