Our society’s fascination with scientific advancement has greatly benefitted people from a medical standpoint. Unfortunately, these innovations have come with a price. In some instances, it can be a steep one. In our haste to solve long-standing medical mysteries, we have occasionally settled for the first potential solution that presents itself, when in reality, the side-effects of this new technology can actually worsen people’s health. In the last decade, the creation of a transvaginal “mesh” has made its way to the epicenter of medical news, specifically with regard to numerous product liability lawsuits.
The transvaginal mesh, or pelvic mesh, was first introduced in the 1970s and was considered ground-breaking technology in women’s health. The mesh was originally designed to treat a variety of health conditions associated with weakened pelvic muscles in women. Childbirth and menopause hysterectomies (i.e. the removal of the uterus) are the most common causes of weakened pelvic muscles. When these crucial muscles deteriorate and atrophy, the nearby organs, including the bladder, rectum and uterus, drop into the vagina and can cause serious reproductive health issues and incontinence.
The Food and Drug Association (FDA) has estimated that 91% of pelvic meshes are made of polypropylene, a type of non-absorbable plastic. The term “transvaginal” refers to the method in which the mesh is placed in the woman’s body: “through” the vagina, rather than a more invasive abdominal surgery. When inserted correctly, the mesh acts as a support system and prevents the pelvic organs from falling downward into the vagina. Unfortunately, the plastic material has caused serious problems for many women, including punctures and erosion in the vagina.
According to lawyersandsettlements.com, the Johnson & Johnson company, and one of its subsidiaries, was recently ordered to pay a substantial amount of money damages to a West Virginia woman who was injured by their pelvic mesh. The woman, Jo Huskey, and her husband Allen, filed a personal injury lawsuit against a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, called Ethicon. Ethicon, which is a California-based company, produced the TVT-O pelvic mesh sling device. According to the Huskeys’ formal complaint, the transvaginal mesh had degraded and eroded inside Mrs. Huskey’s body, leaving her with pain, scar tissue, and a damaged pelvic floor even after the device was removed. They alleged that the design of the product was defective and that the company failed to warn consumers of the potential dangers.
After a long jury trial, the Huskeys were awarded $3.27 million in damages, which included $200,000 for Mr. Huskey’s loss of consortium.