A SENATE committee has recommended transvaginal mesh only be used as a last resort after victims told an inquiry harrowing stories of devastating physical and mental scars.
The mesh has been used since the 1990s to treat stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse in women, with many experiencing severe impacts.
A report tabled in parliament on Wednesday made 13 recommendations including mandatory reporting of adverse effects on women, more information about the risks of implants and better training for doctors and surgeons.
“Many women who have had transvaginal mesh implants have had devastating complications resulting in ongoing emotional trauma, embarrassment, shame, depression, debilitating pain, recurring infection and a poor quality of life,” committee chair, Greens senator Rachel Siewert said.
Independent senator Derryn Hinch said the committee had heard frightening stories of complications for women who had been let down by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
“Having first been told there’s only a one per cent chance of an adverse reaction, they have since been treated like mushrooms,” Senator Hinch said.
“Kept in the dark and fed bulls*** by doctors, hospital administrators, the drug companies and sadly even the TGA.”
In 2017, Hinch described it as “the biggest medical scandal for Australian women since thalidomide in the 1950s and 1960s, when kids were born without arms and legs”.
The committee recommended the mesh be used only with fully informed consent and as a last resort when other treatment options have been properly considered and determined unsuitable.
Establishing a register of all high-risk devices and providing information of how to seek treatment in the event of complications were among the report’s other recommendations.
“This should never have happened. We need to fix it. We need to be providing support for these women,” Senator Siewert said.
Senator Hinch said the netting, which had led to relationship breakdowns, could become brittle, break away in shards and splinters to float around the body.
“No wonder these things have been called a torture device.”