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11 Apr 2018

AMA President Dr Michael Gannon has said there are important lessons to be learned from the transvaginal mesh implants issue that has caused a number of Australian women to suffer debilitating side effects.

A Senate Inquiry into the implants has recommended the devices “should only be used as a last resort” after finding that some women were not properly informed about their potential hazards.

Hundreds of Australian women complained of serious and painful side effects after receiving the implants, with some adding that they had not been listened to by their doctors.

The Committee said thousands of women were affected.

The Inquiry found the damage to some women was extensive, with the Committee’s chairwoman Rachel Siewert saying many of them suffered for a long time.

“I hope we never have another inquiry where we see such suffering from witnesses,” Senator Siewert said.

The Committee’s report was released in March and recommended setting up a national register to track all implants; better education for doctors and patients; surgical training for removing the devices; specialist counselling for affected women; and mandatory reporting of adverse events by medical practitioners.

The controversial vaginal mesh implants for use in pelvic organ prolapse were banned in November last year, following growing public concern.

A class action against one of the mesh manufacturers, Johnson & Johnson, involves more than 700 women.

Dr Gannon said the episode has shown that there are lessons to be learned, especially when things go wrong.

He said there was no denying that some women had been injured, and that their concerns should be taken seriously.

But he added that not all women have problems with the devices.

“This perhaps fails to recognise that the massive number of women that have benefited from mid-urethral sling operations using only a very small amount of tape,” Dr Gannon said.

“We’re facing an environment where it’s going to be harder for women with similar symptoms in the future to avail themselves of a very, very good, very safe operation.”

CHRIS JOHNSON


Published: 11 Apr 2018