Fri, 22 Dec 2017
The UK’s health watchdog, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), has this month issued new guidelines on the use of vaginal mesh implants as a treatment for pelvic organ prolapse.
The controversy around vaginal mesh has been one of the most prolific health stories of the year, and hundreds of women are now known to be suing the NHS and makers of the mesh for the pain and trauma caused by the implants.
Mamta Gupta, a Clinical Negligence specialist with No5 Barristers’ Chambers, along with Mark Slack, Consultant Urogynaecologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, recently delivered a seminar to legal professionals in London on the controversy around mesh to treat Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP), and subsequent litigation. Mamta and Mark have worked together on vaginal mesh cases previously.
Having successfully litigated these cases previously, Mamta took the delegates on a whistle-stop tour of how to approach the cases for both Claimant and Defendant lawyers. The talk dealt with claims in Clinical Negligence as well as Product Liability.
Mamta emphasised that ‘each case will however turn on its own facts’.
Every year in the UK, up to 10,000 women have the plastic mesh implantation in order to treat urinary incontinence or vaginal wall prolapse.
But an estimated 10 per cent of women have suffered severe complications including chronic pain, bleeding, and pain during intercourse.
On December 15th, NICE issued further interventional procedures guidance (IPG) stating that mesh should only be used for research purposes and not to repair pelvic organ prolapse. The IPG further stated that the evidence for the long-term efficacy of the treatment remains “inadequate in quality and quantity”.
In their presentation, Mamta and Mark looked at the use of mesh along with its risks and benefits, relevant guidance in the UK and the controversy with using the product internationally.
Mamta reminded the delegates of the important Supreme Court case of Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board and GMC (2015) UKSC 11 and that:
· A doctor is under a duty to take reasonable care to ensure that the patient is aware of any material risks involved in any recommended treatment, and of any reasonable alternative or variant treatments.
· The test of materiality is whether in the circumstances a reasonable person in the patient’s position would be likely to attach significance to the risk, or the doctor was or should reasonably be aware that the particular patient would be likely to attach significance to it.
Mamta also highlighted the importance of considering the limitation periods when bringing these claims in both common law negligence and also under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.
She ended by saying: “We must evaluate the relevant strengths of pursuing a claim against different defendants, be it in clinical negligence or product liability.”
Mark and Mamta pointed out that litigation is not the full story behind the headlines of vaginal mesh, and that many women were enjoying a much improved quality of life thanks to successful procedures performed in good faith by competent surgeons.
With offices in Birmingham, London, Bristol and Leicester, award winning No5 is one of the UK’s premier set of barristers’ chambers with over 250 barristers including 36 silks. It has an established and highly regarded Clinical Negligence team offering a wealth of experience to solicitors and their clients. If you would like to discuss a Mesh claim, or any other Clinical Negligence matter our clerks can be contacted on: 0845 241 7006 or [email protected]
Both Mamta and Mark are planning to deliver the ‘What A Mesh’ Seminar, in Birmingham in the New Year and a date will be announced shortly. Please visit www.no5.com/seminars to view all upcoming No5 events.