In a classic case of the fox guarding the henhouse, the task of writing new guidelines for hernia surgeries was given to doctors who were on the payroll of the hernia mesh industry. The result was predictable as the doctors drafting the recommendations came up with guidelines that overwhelmingly favored the use of hernia mesh. While this may well serve the doctors who were paid and the companies who make money, it certainly is not in the best interests of the patients who are at risk of being permanently injured by hernia mesh. Once again, industry scratches the doctors’ backs and the patients are the ones who lose.
The new guidelines are expected to apply internationally. This is important because the number of hernia surgeries overseas in emerging economies is on the rise. Thus, people in those countries will soon learn the pain that hernia mesh may cause.
The New Guidelines: Bought and Paid For By Hernia Mesh Makers
The main problem with the new standards is that they make hernia mesh the default option for surgical procedures. In fact, hernia mesh is always be used unless it is not available or the patient has specifically requested not to use the mesh. The doctor must first mention hernia mesh to the patient and can only discuss other options after talking about mesh. They may not even reach a discussion of other choices unless the patient specifically asks.
Doctors may not even be telling them the full risks of hernia mesh
The problem is that many patients simply do not know enough about the risks of hernia mesh to make a request not to use it for their procedures. Their doctors may not even be telling them the full risks of hernia mesh, instead telling them that the surgery is safe and routine. The patient may be unaware that the authors of the guidelines were not exactly disinterested. The victim may learn years later that hernia mesh is anything but safe.
The guidelines were produced by a European group called HerniaSurge. They were immediately adopted by the American Hernia Society. This is a membership organization for surgeons and it claims to advance the science of hernia repair. In addition, other organizations that represent hernia surgeons internationally also signed on to the new guidelines.
Authors who helped work on drafting the guidelines were not disinterested
Where the conflict comes into play is that dozens of authors who helped work on drafting the guidelines were not exactly disinterested. To the contrary, 50 of these authors received money from companies that are participants in the hernia industry. The funding was to help defray the costs of writing these guidelines.
The industry participants who helped fund the study included some of the largest makers of hernia mesh in the world, including Johnson & Johnson, C.R. Bard and Medtronic. Not only did these companies help pay the doctors, but other companies that profit off of the current hernia surgery process were also writing checks that these doctors cashed. Of course, HerniaSurge maintains that the fact that its study and results were paid for by the industry did nothing to influence the ultimate conclusions. However, it is not as if HerniaSurge could say anything different and still expect to be taken seriously.
Healthcare Companies Often End Up Funding Research that May Benefit Them
It is increasingly difficult to trust industry guidelines and even some medical research in this country given the role that companies play in funding research. Oftentimes, this results in findings that conveniently end up benefiting the companies who paid for the research. Even if the authors disclosed that they received money from the industry, it still does nothing to disturb the standards that they drafted and doctors follow. The mere disclosure does not undo the fact that the drafters of these guidelines show a bias towards hernia mesh in an exercise that is funded by the makers of hernia mesh.
In fact, over two-thirds of the funding for health care research in this country comes from industry. While companies often augment government funds and can even fill the gaps when the government does not provide enough money, there is still a question as to who ensures that the research that they provide is not biased. Here, in the case of the hernia guidelines, there are sufficient questions about the objectivity of the standards given the fact that they were paid for by the companies who stand to benefit the most.
Non-Mesh Options Are Completely Left Out of the Discussion
What makes these standards even more questionable is that they almost completely shut out non-mesh options. This does not reflect the current reality in this country where ten percent of the hernia procedures are performed without the use of mesh. Nonetheless, the new guidelines make it extremely difficult for doctors to even bring the possibility of non-mesh surgeries up to their patients.
Shouldice Hospital in Canada uses mesh in only 1.5 percent of its surgeries
Research that is backed up by actual numbers shows that patients who have surgery without the use of hernia mesh actually experience five times fewer complications than those who have mesh surgery. Shouldice Hospital in Canada uses mesh in only 1.5 percent of its surgeries. It has its own method of tissue-only hernia repair, and its patients rarely suffer side effects of the surgery. However, doctors cannot even discuss Shouldice surgery with their patients until they have first brought up hernia mesh.
Risk of a lifetime of pain
Hernia mesh is one way to repair a hernia. After these new guidelines have had some time to take effect, it may become one of the only ways because they effectively silence those who advocate for alternative methods. As a result, patients end up at risk of a lifetime of pain as the hernia mesh may migrate or disintegrate within the body. This will cause them intense discomfort and will require numerous surgeries to remove it from the body if it can even be removed at all.
Hernia mesh is almost a $4 billion business
Meanwhile, now that the hernia mesh companies have been able to leverage their financial largesse to assert their dominance over the industry, they have seized the lion’s share of the market for hernia surgeries. Hernia mesh is almost a $4 billion business and it is growing every year as the number of hernia surgeries in the world moves past 20 million annually.
If You Have Been Injured By Hernia Mesh, You Can File a Lawsuit
Those who end up being convinced to have hernia mesh surgeries without a full discussion of the options can have a legal claim if they end up with complications from the surgery. Here, the lawsuit would be against the company that made the hernia mesh.
Hernia mesh manufacturers have not been able to get away without being called to account for the product that they have sold. Now, they face thousands of hernia mesh lawsuits brought by injured patients. The first of these cases are beginning to go to trial in 2020. If you have been injured by hernia mesh, contact an attorney to file your hernia mesh lawsuit.