In recognition of Patient Solidarity Day, the Health Consumers’ Council is hosting a screening of The Bleeding Edge by Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering. The film documents an investigation into the medical device industry and shines a light on the perils of the relentless pace of innovation.
When: Thu. 13 December 2018 from 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm AWST
Luna Cinemas 155 Oxford Street Leederville WA 6007
America has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, yet preventable medical harm has become one of the leading causes of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial.
In THE BLEEDING EDGE, Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE HUNTING GROUND) turn their sights on the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit driven incentives that put patients at risk daily. Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks: what life-saving technologies may actually be killing us.
I met Joanne McCarthy when I flew to Canberra in May of 2016. I started really campaigning for mesh injured women at the beginning of 2016. Prior to that my focus was on trying to find a way to get reimbursement of my USA expenses when I flew to St Louis for mesh removal with Dr Veronikis, with no such luck. The opportunity to meet Joanne came about after I wrote to the Minister for Health and I received an email from the TGA offering to have a meeting with them.
Joanne McCarthy is an incredible investigative journalist. She has been on the mesh case for more than 4 years. In 2016 I had read a few of her articles and I sent her a few emails about the Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group and the many injured women who were joining at a steady pace. We “met” over the phone and talked and talked. She connected with more mesh injured women over the months and years and her articles were coming out fast and furious.
She won the Walkleys award in 2017 for Public Service Journalism. “Her investigation spanned three years (as at 2017) and more than 80 articles. It provided a local view of a global catastrophe, as sensitive to victims as it was unflinching in exposing negligence.” The Walkleys website sums up her reporting as “dogged”.
When I arrived in Canberra, I met 3 other mesh injured women who were also as determined as I was about meeting with the TGA to demand changes to the regulatory system and in particular, to ban mesh. I contacted Joanne when we were settled in to our AirBnB accommodation and she said “I would love to come and meet you all”. She drove up from Newcastle for the day and the 5 of us went out for lunch. It was like meeting up with an old friend. She has a compassionate and empathetic heart and she was as angry as we all were about women’s lives being destroyed by this evil called pelvic mesh.
I am so grateful to Joanne because without her, our stories would not have been heard. She brought this to the attention of the nation through her articles, and even after months and months of myself and others contacting many media outlets and continually being ignored, Joanne stood by us and investigated surgeons, the TGA, the beginning of the mesh disaster and the many ruined lives of women implanted with mesh.
PELVIC mesh victims have called for a complete ban on the use of pelvic mesh implants in Australia after Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt apologised to women for the “historic agony and pain” of mesh surgery.
Peak consumer health bodies around Australia welcomed the apology but said the lack of funding to help affected women, and the failure to hold authorities responsible for the scandal to account, were “glaring” absences from the Federal Government’s response on Wednesday to a Senate report into pelvic mesh.
“We congratulate the Minister for recognising that these women have waited too long for validation from a system that treated them as unreliable witnesses to their own pain and suffering,” said Health Issues Centre chief executive Danny Vadasz.
“But ‘sorry’ is just a good first step. It doesn’t in itself deliver a happy ending. The Minister is relying on system reform through institutional self-regulation. Expecting the various bodies that failed their duty of care to pick up their game without addressing their accountability is an empty hope.”
On Wednesday Mr Hunt acknowledged “horrific outcomes” for many Australian women.
“On behalf of the Australian government, I say sorry to all of those women with the historic agony and pain that has come from mesh implantation which have led to horrific outcomes,” he said.
The Senate inquiry and report identified failures across the health system leading to “catastrophic” results for an unknown number of women implanted with devices for more than three decades.
The Senate report recommended a review of doctors’ relationships with device manufacturers “to prevent the payment of inducements” to doctors and teaching hospitals, mandatory reporting of adverse events by doctors, a registry for all high risk implantable devices, a more comprehensive monitoring scheme for devices approved for use in Australia, and government agency oversight of a more effective informed consent process by doctors.
“Our main aim and collective efforts are focused on restoring affected women’s confidence in our healthcare system, now and into the future.”
Mr Hunt said the government supported, or supported in principle, 12 of the 13 recommendations, but stopped short of a retrospective audit of transvaginal mesh procedures since the devices were introduced in Australia. Transvaginal mesh devices are polypropylene supports implanted into a woman via the vagina after complications following childbirth, including incontinence and prolapse.
The audit was strongly supported by pelvic mesh victims and public health groups after evidence health authorities did not know how many women had received implants, and how many were experiencing significant problems following mesh surgery.
The Newcastle Herald has reported since 2014 on women across Australia being ignored for decades when they have reported complications following mesh surgery.
On Wednesday Mr Hunt said the inquiry raised awareness about serious and longstanding impacts reported by some women following mesh-related procedures.
“I acknowledge the strength of the women who spoke at the public hearings, recounting deeply private and often traumatic experiences. The inquiry identified how we can recognise and support the women affected, and make improvements to Australia’s health care system,” he said.
He said the government had already strengthened pre-market assessment of surgical mesh products by identifying them as high risk, had enhanced post market surveillance, introduced new Medicare items for the removal of mesh and launched a new Therapeutic Goods Administration web hub for consumers and professionals to find information about mesh.
Carolyn Chisholm, who launched the first support group for pelvic mesh women in 2014, said she appreciated the recognition of pelvic mesh as a national scandal and the minister’s apology, but said all mesh had to be removed from the market.
“I appreciate the recognition but these products should be banned altogether to prevent the possibility of more women’s lives being ruined. If only Greg Hunt would acknowledge this, then that would be progress,” Ms Chisholm said.
The WA Pelvic Mesh Support Group had a successful day at the Perth Cultural Centre on Friday 26th October, helping to bring about awareness of the complications of pelvic mesh. The mesh awareness colour purple really stood out among all of the displays and won the prize for best dressed! Congratulations and thanks goes to all of the wonderful mesh injured women who volunteered their time to help get the message out to the community.
WAPMSG became an associate member of ConnectGroups who organised the Support Groups Awareness Day Expo where stalls were held by Self Help and Support Groups, NGO’s and Peak Bodies providing information and resources for a wide range of conditions including chronic, genetic, mental health and families. ConnectGroups aims to help people help each other by providing Self Help and Support Groups with:
“On Friday our team WA Pelvic Mesh Support Group and Australian Pelvic Mesh Support Group were out raising awareness for Surgical Mesh, particularly urogynecological mesh complications at Connect Groups Awareness Day in Perth.
Urogynecological mesh complications may include chronic nerve pain, chronic urinary tract infections, vaginal bleeding, sexual dysfunction, autoimmune and allergy symptoms.
Mesh Awareness Australia would like to thank all the women who turned out to help raise awareness for pelvic mesh complications, especially considering all were in debilitating pain.
We are especially grateful to Caz Chisholm and Louise Tompkins for organising the stall. Their amazing efforts saw them being awarded Best Booth of the day.”