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Part I: Transvaginal Mesh Survivor Offers Hope to Other Women

Christy Hammond

During Part One of a special two-part episode of Drugwatch Radio, Christy Hammond shares her harrowing experience with transvaginal mesh, her opinions on lawsuits and the fact that she was never told about the life-changing complications that she would face.

Transvaginal mesh, a synthetic, porous material, is used to treat conditions like sagging organs (pelvic organ prolapse) or when the bladder leaks (stress urinary incontinence). It is called “transvaginal” because of the surgical procedure used to implant the mesh through the vagina – a procedure that was supposed to be less invasive than going through the abdomen.

Typically, mesh is an issue that older women deal with, but Christy was only 30 when her doctor recommended a bladder sling to prevent future incontinence. In the years that would follow, Christy would endure emotional and physical pain, isolation and fear about what was going on inside her body.

She said that she never even thought it could be the bladder sling because no doctor ever mentioned it being a problem. In fact, she didn’t even know what transvaginal mesh was.

“I was never given any information about any potential dangers. In fact, it was as if this surgery would be no big deal at all and my bladder would just be lifted and sitting in this little hammock-like sling,” Christy said. “No mention of the word mesh, and no mention, period, of what product would be implanted inside of me. I was young, and I trusted what was being said to me. I had no reason to doubt that I would be anything but perfectly pleased with this decision.”

However, once the recovery period from the hysterectomy was over, Christy began to realize that something was terribly wrong.

She said, “The symptoms were hard to describe to myself, let alone a doctor. When I mentioned my strange pains, like how my right side would just jolt me throughout the day, enough that I would gasp and hold my side for fear of what could be going on, my lower pelvic area was as if on fire.”

Christy went from doctor to doctor looking for answers, but none of the experts she saw could tell her what was wrong. She began to doubt her sanity, and in the meantime, her symptoms were making life practically unbearable. Her instinct told her that there was something wrong, but she couldn’t begin to fathom what it was.

“These pains that I suffered from were so intense that I would cry on a daily basis. I really started questioning my sanity,” she shared. “I felt that these doctors were missing something big, and that I would just end up dead from whatever it was.”

While Christy was going through this mystery condition, it also affected her husband and children, who could do little but watch her suffer.

Mesh Affects Relationships and Families

Like other women suffering from the complications of mesh, Christy’s quality of life deteriorated. She couldn’t enjoy life or the company of her husband and children, and they lost time with her too.

When she wasn’t working, she was in bed.

Each day, the pain and strange symptoms held her hostage.

“I would have zero energy to do much else. I would have to lay down the moment I got home, and I missed so many activities with my children simply because of my pain,” she said. “I was afraid to go on boats, rides at the fair, anything that would jolt me around for fear of whatever this was, possibly getting worse.”

Her husband and children often had to do things without her because she had no energy to enjoy anything outdoors with them.

“It’s time … I will never get back, and that’s what hurts the most,” she said.

Even though none of this was her fault, Christy still sometimes feels guilty.

Many women who face mesh complications struggle with the lost intimacy between them and their significant other. With symptoms like vaginal nerve damage and painful intercourse, the problems are deeply personal and often too taboo to even speak of.

In fact, it isn’t uncommon for husbands or boyfriends to simply leave.

When Christy thinks of how she and her husband made it through the ordeal, she finds it difficult to even talk about.

“We’re still young, in my opinion,” she said. “This isn’t something we should be dealing with, you know? But I will say I am a very lucky girl to have such a patient and understanding man in my life, who loves me for who I am and [doesn’t let] what has happened to me lessen his love.”

Despite her husband’s assurances that he will never leave, it weighs on her.

A Ray of Hope

Christy slowly resigned herself to trying to live with the debilitating problems. She was never one to complain or make too much of a fuss, no matter how bad it got.

Then, hope came from one of the most unlikely places: A television commercial.

Initially, it was Christy’s husband who saw an attorney’s commercial with the words “bladder sling” and a host of symptoms that Christy suffered from. She heard the words “transvaginal mesh,” however, and recoiled at the idea.

“My response that day was, ‘That sounds like a dang disease. That isn’t what I have!’ I had just never heard the word ‘mesh’ before,” she said.

But a week later, the commercial came on again, and this time, she paid attention. When she saw all her “alien-like” symptoms listed, it was a “ground-breaking moment.” She couldn’t wait to call a doctor and finally get some help.

In her eyes, that commercial was a godsend.

However, when she began calling around, she soon realized that when she mentioned the words “transvaginal mesh” doctors’ offices would practically hang up on her. In the end, she called an attorney because she realized that the problems with mesh were bigger than she imagined.

She ended up filing a lawsuit against C.R. Bard, the manufacturer of her mesh implant. But it wasn’t about the money, she said, it was about getting the treatment and help she needed.

After filing suit, she found a specialist and had most of the mesh removed. She still suffers from permanent damage to nerves and tissues, but she wants people to know that life must go on.

She founded SurvivingMESH to share her story and offer a place for other women to find support. It also helped her heal, and the realization that she isn’t alone in this ordeal has been life-changing for her.

“I’m proud to be a voice for mesh,” Christy said.

The Legal Side

Christy’s attorney, Karen Beyea-Schroeder, also joined us on this episode to explain transvaginal mesh lawsuits. She started following the problems with mesh even before the FDA released a warning about complications from mesh in 2011. Karen Beyea-Schroeder - Attorney

Beyea-Schroeder said the suits against mesh companies claim these products are defective because of the complications they cause.

She also shares how these complications changed the lives of many of the women she represents.

Join us again next week, for Part II of this podcast featuring Christy Hammond and attorney Karen Beyea-Schroeder.

Have Something to Say? Let Us Know!

If you had a transvaginal mesh implant and have questions or want to share your story, we want to hear from you. Drugwatch Radio can be reached via email at [email protected], via Twitter @Drugwatch_Radio and through our Facebook page.

Transcript

Welcome to another episode of Drugwatch Radio. I’m your host Michelle Llamas. This episode is Part One of a special two-part show featuring Christy Hammond. At 30 years old, Christy’s life was forever changed when she received a transvaginal mesh implant called a bladder sling. The bladder sling was supposed to prevent incontinence. Instead, she suffered severe complications. Christy and I chatted by telephone about her experience. Also joining us for a brief explanation about the legal aspects of mesh is attorney Karen Beyea-Schroeder. Here are the recorded interviews:

Michelle Llamas: Today I’m very fortunate to have with us on Drugwatch Radio Christy Hammond. And Christy has been very gracious in contributing to Drug Watch over the last few months and sharing her experience with transvaginal mesh with us and she’s joining us today by a telephone. She’s going to share her experience with us and hopefully other people listening will get some answers to some of the questions that they’ve been wondering about. So tell us about what led to the mesh being implanted.

Christy Hammond: Well, during my initial consultation about my scheduled hysterectomy, I was asked about my bladder and given a virtual test to see if I was a candidate for a bladder lift, as it was first introduced to me. I learned I was a candidate and during this consultation I was told how nice it would be to not have any leaks anymore and how it would save me from having to have this surgery later in life.

Michelle: One question there. You said you had a test. Was this like a computerized test?

Christy: It was.

Michelle: So see that’s pretty interesting. Did they like take a picture or an x-ray of you or something? A computer test for your organ seems kind of interesting to me.

Christy: Exactly. Well what they did was have me look into a, literally, look into [something] that’s similar to an eyeglass test and you’re looking through this computer simulated thing and it is asking you, “Ok, now you’re driving down the road, you’re on a vacation with your family,” and asking you how many times you have to stop to go to the bathroom.

Michelle: Interesting.

Christy: Right, and during this they have my bladder completely full of water, okay. And there was even moments when they would press on me just to see, basically just checking to see if I could hold it or not.

Michelle: Okay. So there was a physical examination, too. It wasn’t just a question then the computer pops out, “Okay, she’s a candidate.” Okay, I was wondering about that going, “Well, they decided you were a candidate just from a computer test.” But go on, go on.

Christy: Right. Well no, it was just that I was never given any information about any potential dangers. It was as if this surgery would be no big deal at all and my bladder would just be lifted and sitting in this little hammock-like sling. No mention of the word “mesh” whatsoever, no mention period of what product would be implanted inside of me. I was young and I trusted what was being said to me. I had no reason to doubt I would be anything but perfectly pleased with this decision.

Michelle: Yeah, exactly. It’s coming from your doctor and everyone should trust their doctor, right? So definitely, when you hear something about how great it could be to prevent future problems, of course you’re going to want to do it. How long after the operation did you first notice something was wrong?

Christy: I knew something brand new was going on once I allowed enough time to pass for normal recovery from a hysterectomy since to me the bladder lift was made out to be such a simple procedure. I knew something still wasn’t right and I knew these were symptoms that I had never felt before.

Michelle: Now what were the first symptoms you noticed?

Christy: The symptoms were hard to describe to myself, let alone a doctor. When I would mention my strange pains, like how my right side would just jilt me throughout the day and after that I would just gasp and hold my side for fear of what was going on. My lower pelvic area was as if on fire constantly and throughout the day there would be a radiating pain that would shoot from my lower pelvic area all the way over to my right side. I felt shortness of breath all the time and there was this tingling and numbing sensation from my hip area down to the tops of my thighs. I had constant UTIs, yet not one doctor ever mentioned anything about my sling possibly causing all of this so I never had a reason to suspect my bladder sling.

Michelle: Yeah, and I think the constant doctor to doctor telling you that nothing was wrong, that was kind of was almost saying that it was in your head or something like that. Can you describe some of the complications that you suffered from? I mean you said the symptoms but are there any specific things that changed after this happened to you?

Christy: Well, these pains I spoke of earlier were so intense that I would cry on a daily basis. I really started questioning my sanity. I felt as if these doctors were missing something big and I would just end up dead form whatever it was. I was totally convinced I had a mysterious illness that was slowly killing me.

Michelle: And of course the not knowing, that was probably really difficult.

Christy: Absolutely.

Michelle: And then of course, I don’t know if you ever did this, if you ever looked on the Internet and tried to kind of diagnose yourself and then that makes it worse.

Christy: Oh absolutely, you know, you Google search everything. You’re so desperate to find an answer and I’m telling you that so many things would come up if I would put in a certain symptom but then at the same time when you would read the list of symptoms related to whatever that particular thing I had found was, it just never matched up.

Michelle: Yeah it was never quite right.

Christy: No, not at all. I really just thought I’ve got something that they are just not going to discover until it’s too late.

Michelle: Obviously, this stuff that you were going through had an impact on your life. Can you describe how it changed, how your life changed after all this?

Christy: In a major way. I had no choice but to continue working, but my lower back would hurt so bad in addition to all the other symptoms that I shared earlier. After sitting in my chair all day at work, I would feel completely exhausted by the end of the day and have zero energy to do much else. I would have to lay down the moment I got home. I missed so many activities with my children simply because of my pain. I was afraid to go on boats, rides at the fair, anything that would jilt me around for fear of whatever this was possibly getting worse. I spent so many evenings and weekends in bed, no energy at all to do much more. This not only impacted my life, it impacted my children’s lives, my husband’s life, because I was not able to attend many outdoor functions with them. It’s time, time that I’ll never get back, and that’s what hurts the most.

Michelle: Yeah, you mentioned there that it also affects the families. Other women that are having these issues, too, that’s one of the big things they talk about. Their family, their kids, not being able to be a part of their lives as well. And then that comes to one of the issues that we hear a lot. Women tell us often that it’s a big strain on their relationship with their significant other. Can you share how you and your husband coped and what you were doing to get through that?

Christy: This is such a personal subject that has really taken a lot for me to even want to share. It’s embarrassing for me. I mean, we’re still young in my opinion and this isn’t something we should be dealing with. Not yet anyway, in our marriage.

Michelle: You were really young when you had the hysterectomy.

Christy: Yeah, I was. Yeah, well that’s another subject. But I will say I’m a very lucky girl to have such a patient and understanding man in my life that simply loves me for who I am. Not letting what has happened to me lessen his love, I suppose. I mean, I’ve cried so many times on his chest as he holds me telling me he’ll never leave me, but I think it bothers me more simply because it is me with the problem.

Michelle: Yeah, and you kind of feel this sort of strange guilt almost in a way?

Christy: Absolutely.

Michelle: And even though it’s not something you did, you feel like you’re not perfect anymore. You’ve got something wrong with you.

Christy: That’s right, that’s exactly how I felt.

Michelle: And yeah, you mentioned what an awesome husband you have, for sure. And so many poor women went through this and their relationships would be over. They would go through a divorce.

Christy: I’ve heard so many stories just like that and it’s so sad. So sad. And it could easily happen, absolutely.

Michelle: With the mesh, I think people think about the physical aspects but it’s such an emotional thing. I think it goes beyond the physical symptoms. It becomes emotional.

Christy: Absolutely, it becomes psychological. Absolutely.

Michelle: You get isolated, right? Feelings of isolation because when you were wondering what was going on it was like no one could really understand what was happening. And like you said, you could barely cope with it yourself or understand it yourself. . . . We’ll be right back after this break.

Michelle: We’re back with Christy Hammond. Now, when you mentioned in your post on Drugwatch before, you shared your story with us, we put it up on the site for people to read, you mentioned that your husband and a TV commercial were actually what finally gave you a clue to what you might be suffering from. Can you explain that part of your story again?

Christy: It was an infomercial actually, and it was in October of 2011. He had paid attention to the symptoms that they listed and realizing that they used the word “bladder sling” is when he called out to me, I was in the other room, and he said that I should pay attention to this because it sounded like my symptoms. Well, I walk in the room and I only caught the end of it where they used the word “transvaginal mesh.” Well my response that day was simply, “That sounds like a dang disease. That isn’t what I have.”

Michelle: You’re right. “Transvaginal mesh.” It’s scary.

Christy: Exactly. And I mean I had never heard the word before. I had just never heard the word “mesh” before. So it wasn’t until about a week or so later that I actually got to pay attention to an entire infomercial and it was listing all my alien-like symptoms one right after the other. It was a groundbreaking moment. I could not wait to start calling the doctors the following morning. I was elated that maybe, just maybe, I would finally be getting help.

Michelle: Yeah, because at this point you just wanted a diagnosis, right? You just wanted to know what it was and then start moving forward. The irony of that is that you would have to see that from a commercial on TV and not from a doctor.

Christy: And thank God for it. You hear so many of those commercials and you just want to flip the channel because they are so long and so exhausting and list so many symptoms. Yet, you realize now that there’s a reason for that. It’s because these issues are going on and there are people suffering due to whatever that is about at the time. It’s sad and it’s scary.

Michelle: And a lot of people, the funny thing is, they don’t know, right? Just like you, they have no concept of what it could be until they see that. So it’s almost a public service in a way.

Christy: Yes, and I’m very thankful for it.

Michelle: I guess you’ll look at those commercials in a different way now.

Christy: That’s right.

Michelle: Now you ended up filing a lawsuit against C.R. Bard because of the product that was used in you, the bladder sling. What was your motivation to do that because so many people, whether it’s anxiety about a lawsuit or they don’t think they should or they’ve got maybe some kind of issues wondering about it. What was your motivation to do it?

Christy: Well my motivation actually came later after basically being hung up on when I started calling these doctors. I quickly realized that this was bigger than me. It was bigger than anything I have ever endured and I knew I could not face this alone. I wanted help finding a specialist to fix me. I was desperate to have my life back.

Michelle: So that’s really how that came about, you were like, “Well let me get some experts to help me with what’s going on here.”

Christy: That’s right, that’s right. Because when I’m calling these specialists that they would list on these infomercials, you know “who you should call,” so I started calling specialists, bladder specialists, seriously these people were . . . they may as well have just hung up on me. They wanted nothing to do with what I had to say.

Michelle: Oh that’s horrible.

Christy: Oh, it was. It was very scary at that point. You know, some people may just want to jump on the bandwagon and want to call the attorneys and they’re money motivated, but that was not it at all for me. I mean, this was just a way that I wanted and needed to find help. And when you have no answers . . . there was nothing. When I first started to search this after hearing the infomercial, there was still no information out there or available. You would find the attorneys, but that alone scared me. What I just wanted was a doctor, a doctor that would take a minute and take the time, in other words, to listen to me and check it out. But at this point, I still had no idea that mesh was even inside of me. But when you are hearing these symptoms described on a television that you have been trying to tell and to have someone relate to them for years, and not even the doctor would understand them, it was just seriously a groundbreaking moment, and I was scared and I needed help.

Michelle: Well it is a scary thing, especially when you hear about this thing that you’ve never heard of before and you’re going, “That was put inside me?” Because you didn’t even know at the time exactly what had gone on with the surgery. I think that you mentioned something very crucial there, that typically people tend to associate lawsuit with money, but there’s so much wrapped into that, especially with the mesh issue, because I think it’s almost a special, tight-knit community that’s developed around this, maybe because of the types of symptoms that people were having and the sheer lack of information that has been put out about it. A lot of these women will say, much like you, that they wanted help and that they are doing this because they are trying to get the message out to other women, which you would wish you wouldn’t have to do something so drastic but it seems like that’s how you get your voice heard. You’re like, “Hey, here we go.” Which brings me now to Surviving Mesh, which is your community, or I would say community because there are a lot of people that have come on your Facebook page and sort of become a community. But tell us about how you decided to found that and how it came about.

Christy: My mother actually. She’s not a computer person and she only knows a little about social media, but she watched me suffer for so many years and was just so angry to learn of the possible cause and told me I should start researching and getting the word out there about the potential dangers of this type of surgery and share what it has done to my life. I mean, even though I had no official confirmation yet when I first started my Facebook page, and that was in the late part of 2011, I knew with all my being that this was what was wrong. It was the only thing that made perfect sense. It wasn’t until 2012 that I finally got confirmation of the eroded mesh inside of my body and finally had most of it removed. My mother, I remember her exact words were, “Doctors need to get their heads out of the sand and realize these manufacturing companies are ruining people’s lives.”

Michelle: Yeah, your mom is very astute there.

Christy: Yeah, and angry and upset, you know, just over what it’s done, over something so senseless. I look back and realize how green I was to all of this in the beginning when I look back at my Facebook page and I think, “Gosh, how long of a way we’ve come.” You know, this has been a journey over just two short years now. When you go from thinking of something and you’re all alone in this world and nobody will ever understand or figure out what’s wrong to 50,000 plus people out there with the same exact symptoms, it’s overwhelming. I remember the first few times people would share their stories, I would just read them over and over again thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m not alone.” It brings tears to my eyes still to this day. Crazy situation, no doubt.

Michelle: That must have been such a relief in a way. You obviously wouldn’t wish this on anyone else, but it must have been kind of nice to know you weren’t the only one.

Christy: Oh, yes. Oh gosh, yes. Absolutely. It was as if people were just inside my head speaking exactly what I had been saying for years. I mean it was actually confirmation that I wasn’t crazy, that I wasn’t losing my mind. You know?

Michelle: Yes. Because it’s such a crazy…I mean the symptoms of this thing are so like widespread and the things that you mention…you have like pain in your side, how would you even think that something in your bladder would be giving you all these strange pains in your side? And you said nausea and things like that you said you had?

Christy: Well, not so much nausea, no. It was just more my lower pelvic area literally as if lit on fire constantly.

Michelle: Just complete intense pain, would you say?

Christy: Oh absolutely. There’s nothing to even compare to it actually. And there were just no answers. They tested me for everything from A to Z and everything would come back negative.

Michelle: We’re going to take a quick and we’ll be right back with more Drugwatch Radio. . . . Welcome back to Drugwatch Radio. I’m your host, Michelle Llamas. Thanks for joining us for Part One of an interview with Christy Hammond. Join us next week for Part Two. Now Christy’s attorney, Karen Beyea-Schroeder, explains mesh lawsuits. Karen Beyea-Schroeder she is an attorney with Fleming, Nolen, and Jez, and she has a lot of experience dealing with transvaginal mesh claims. And she is joining us today from Houston by a telephone. Welcome to the show, Karen.

Karen Beyea-Schroeder: Well, thank you very much for having me. I’m glad I could talk to you today.

Michelle: First let’s talk a little bit about your background. When and how did you become involved with the mesh litigation?

Karen: There was an FDA notification that came out in 2008 that we became aware of at our firm that indicated that there were mesh complications but that they were quite rare, or they were rare, that they weren’t a common thing. And then in 2011, the FDA had come out with a notification saying that after a review of all of the complaints that had come into them, that in fact those complications were not necessarily rare. And at that point in time, which was about July of 2011, our firm became more heavily involved in the mesh litigation and investigating these types of claims.

Michelle: Would you say that you are handling a good portion of them right now?

Karen: I’m handling many of them right now, yes.

Michelle: Alright, and some women might wonder…they hear about the lawsuits that are going on surrounding the mesh…what are some of the reasons that plaintiffs are filing against the mesh companies?

Karen: What it is, is a product defect claim. So it’s not like you go and buy a battery and it doesn’t work. It’s essentially you go buy a battery and it explodes. There has to be a defect in the product itself, so in the mesh cases, they are supposed to be holding up certain pelvic organs for a female, be it the uterus, the bladder, or the colon, because they’re falling beneath a certain level where they’re supposed to be in the body and/or there could be [inaudible] incontinence because a woman over time may start to leak when they laugh, cough, and sneeze. And the problem with many of these products is that they are biologic, meaning that they come from a pig or a cadaver, a person whose passed away, or they’re polypropylene. Unfortunately the devices are causing many different types of problems. Some women have problems because of the surgery, the way that the device is implanted itself. They can have neurologic pain in the pelvic region that’s permanent that even can track down some of their legs or into their hip. Some women are actually having urinary problems where they may go to the bathroom and two seconds later they feel like they need to go to the bathroom again because they weren’t able to empty their entire bladder. Or they actually don’t even get a sensation where they need to go to the bathroom and it just goes down their leg or into their pants. Some women actually have the mesh what’s called “erode,” meaning going into a different place where it’s supposed to be. The manufacturers often call this mesh migration so the mesh actually cuts into a different part of the body and if it’s in the vaginal canal, the woman’s partner can actually get injured by the mesh itself because it will rub up against them during intercourse. So there’s many different types of problems. We’ve had women with bowel problems, as well. People can get recurrent infections from these devices. So it’s just a myriad of different types of problems that women can have and they’re not having just one problem, often times they’re having more than one problem.

Michelle: Yeah, and it’s financial, it’s emotional, and it’s physical. Right, it’s not just the one little thing like, “Oh a little bit of pain.” It’s a life-changing issue for a lot of these ladies.

Karen: It’s a very life-changing experience for these women because they go in being told that this is going to improve their life, they are going to be able to do things that they used to be able to do. And it may not be immediate that they have this problem. In fact, it could be several years after the mesh is implanted when the mesh starts to contract, meaning getting smaller in size, that they’re feeling the tension from this contraction and all of the sudden developing problems. They may not be able to carry the laundry basket or pick up their grandkids. They may wind up having to spend half the day in the bathroom. They may not even be able to have intercourse with their husband. It affects the woman financially because they have to get medical treatment, it affects them emotionally because it affects your ability to do what you want to be able to do, be a spouse, be a family member, be a friend, be able to go out in society. It affects you physically as well because body changes are happening that shouldn’t be happening normally.

Michelle: Yeah, and then we talk about also…you said it affects the family, husbands, right? This also affects them because of the relationship that changes between them and their wife.

Karen: It does affect the spouse because it may affect their ability to have intercourse. The woman can have pain with intercourse. Of course if the mesh actually goes into the vaginal canal, then the husband could be injured by the mesh as well, but it also affects the kids. The wife can’t do everything that she used to be able to do with her kids – go out and play, catch a ball in the front yard, perhaps even go and watch a football game or a baseball game out in a field because there’s no bathroom nearby where they would have to be able to go to the bathroom.

Michelle: Yeah, and we’ve also had the opportunity to talk to quite a few of these women that are suffering from this and a lot of them have said that this is also a very isolating problem because it’s a strange thing to have, like a lot of them weren’t even sure what it was when they first started and they went from doctor to doctor until they were able to finally find somebody that could help them. So that was also another problem that I think affects them emotionally because that’s tough to not know what’s wrong.

Karen: Very much so. I mean it’s very taboo to talk about certain things and I think that how the mesh affects you is very taboo. Women don’t usually talk to each other about these types of problems.

Michelle: No, and no one wants to admit the stuff either. It’s hard.

Karen: It’s good when doctors can finally find out what’s wrong with you and actually fess up that, “Oh this may be causing the problem,” and actually maybe improve your quality of life compared to what you’re going through.

Michelle: And I think that’s how they sold the products to begin with, right? It was supposed to be something that fixed them and helped them do things again, but then they ended up with worse issues than what they came in with in some cases. Like you talk about the incontinence issues and in some cases it was really mild or practically nonexistent, but doctors would say, “Hey, you’re probably going to have this issue later and we might as well fix it now.” And then they end up with a having the bladder slings put in and then it causes more issues than you had before.

Karen: Yes, there’s actually some studies that if you’re doing a pelvic organ prolapse procedure or hysterectomy, it’s more economical to put in a [inaudible] incontinence device at the same time because you’re going to need it anyway.

Michelle: That’s true.

Karen: So doctors looked at it that way and tried to sell a product that maybe they didn’t need yet and wouldn’t have chosen if they knew all of the risks.

Michelle: Exactly, and in some cases, a lot of the doctors would rely on the studies and the marketing probably from these companies. They had these kits that were supposed to help the doctors do less invasive surgeries, things like that, and so they were trusting the medical companies and, well, the products end up becoming problematic later. In the transvaginal mesh lawsuits, we’ve got the class-action lawsuits and the MDLs, which are the multi-district litigation. What is the difference between the two and can you say if there are any advantages or disadvantages to either approach?

Karen: A class-action is when they’re so many different people, you can’t identity who has or has not received a product or a service. And so years ago, a few years ago, there was a Ticket Master class-action if you paid for tickets online and the reason why is because they can’t tell you who and who did not have this service or you wouldn’t know, you can publicize it and find out and you get one person to act as a representative of the group. For a multi-district litigation, everybody has their own separate lawsuit. Everybody has to prove their own case against the different manufacturer, and therefore it becomes a little bit more complicated because there’s many different people having their own lawsuit. And what a multi-district litigation does is kind of coordinates all the plaintiff attorneys so that instead of 100 people going to depose the representative of the manufacturing company, we’re going to have one or two people assigned to do that instead. It does save costs as opposed to having an individual lawsuit, but if you can identify that you yourself had a certain product from a certain manufacturer, then technically you’re supposed to have an individual lawsuit.

Michelle: I see.

Karen: If you can’t figure it out or you can’t count how many people it is that had a product, then it’s a class-action. When you can identify who’s had the product, then it’s a multi-district litigation.

Michelle: That concludes Part One of this two-part podcast featuring Christy Hammond and Karen Beyea-Schroeder. If you have any comments or questions, you can email us at [email protected], tweet us on @drugwatchradio, or “like” us on Facebook. On behalf of the team at Drugwatch, thanks for listening. Join us next week for Part Two.

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