For thousands of women, transvaginal mesh has caused more problems than it has solved. Women with TVM have reported infections, urinary problems, pain during sexual intercourse, scarring, bladder perforation, recurrence of pelvic organ prolapse or incontinence, and other problems. If you have a transvaginal mesh implant and now suffer unusual pain or other symptoms, you need to take action quickly.
Make an Appointment with your Gynecologist. If you believe your transvaginal mesh implant is causing you problems, your first priority is to get back to good health. As I tell my clients, your health decisions always come first, and those are between you, your family, and your doctors, and do not involve any attorney. So set an appointment with your treating physician, and let her know about the pains or discomforts or new “weird feelings” you are having. If it turns out the TVM has failed, you will want to have that information as soon as possible and you may need to schedule revision and repair surgery. But again, you need a good doctor to help you analyze your medical condition as soon as you become aware of something being “not quite right.
Start a Symptoms Journal. It is simple enough: when you first begin to notice sensations or pains which seem abnormal or unexpected, write down a brief description of the pains on a piece of paper or a notes app on your smart phone. The more detail the better—if the pain occurs when you are having sex (dyspareunia), note the kind of pain you feel, the location, and any other details. This journal may provide important information for your doctors but also for your attorney as he or she prepares a settlement package or a lawsuit. A woman who has been injured by transvaginal mesh can potentially recover money in a subset of “damages” known as “pain and suffering.” A pain/symptoms/well-being journal can provide valuable information to an attorney putting together the best case for you in the event you have a viable claim against a manufacturer for a failed TVM.
Gather Bills and Keep Records of Expenses and Missed Work-Time. Keep accurate records of all bills incurred and any out-of-pocket expenses you are paying for your surgery, recovery, rehabilitation, medications, etc. Manufacturers of defective transvaginal mesh may be obligated to pay the out-of-pocket expenses to a victim of a failed TVM. Also, keep detailed records of all time missed from your employment, including sick days which you were forced to use, and days out of work for which you lost compensation. Make notes for each day missed from work, and why you missed work (e.g., “Missed February 8-12 due to revision surgery at X hospital, recovery at home.”). It is important in the early stages to keep a file with any documentation you receive from your surgeons, your gynecologist, urologist, or primary care doctor, your pharmacist, and any other professionals who participated in your surgery or follow-up care.
Do Your Research. I would recommend starting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website (https://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/), a federal government website providing timely information on the latest recalls or problems associated with medical devices such as transvaginal mesh. Also, you may want to review the court website associated with the TVM you have implanted (or which has been removed in a revision surgery). Two multidistrict litigation sites for transvaginal mesh can be found on my Resources page. I also recommend going to established news outlets, such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other reliable publications. The New York Times has been quite effective in reporting on failed transvaginal mesh through its news, business, and health sections. Type in “transvaginal mesh” and read.
But be careful! I can’t stress this enough: The Internet can be a freaky place. I once saw a funny cartoon depicting a doctor handing a prescription to a patient with the caption, “take two of these before you Google your symptoms.” Indeed, within a matter of minutes on the Internet you can be reading about the worst possible outcomes in a failed transvaginal mesh case, outcomes which would most likely never happen to most people who have suffered a failed TVM. There is no requirement for truth on the Internet. People can write anything. If something sounds unbelievable on a website, it is probably false. So again, be cautious and skeptical when conducting research on the Internet. Verify.
Find the Right Lawyer. Many attorneys merely advertise but don’t litigate or even represent the people to whom they are marketing their legal services, and other attorneys throw up a laundry list of practice areas in which they claim expertise. As with any profession, some lawyers are good and some are not very good. You will want to find an experienced attorney who practices plaintiff-side product liability and personal injury law. It is a bad idea to let your nephew who just graduated from law school take on your transvaginal mesh product liability case. Take your time with this important decision.