Designed in 1958, surgical mesh has been preferred by surgeons when repairing hernias due to the low recovery time and reduced rate of recurrence. However, there has been a recent surge in complaints and lawsuits filed against mesh manufacturers after patients have experienced adverse complications. Various mesh products have even been recalled from the market. If you’re considering pursuing a hernia mesh lawsuit, here’s what you can expect – from noticing the symptoms to taking legal action and receiving compensation.
Time Frames You Should Keep an Eye on
- 24 to 48 hours after surgery: Your wound will still be sore and you may see swelling and bruising around the area. But this is normal. You should be able to get up, get dressed, move around the house and eat and drink as normal. If your doctor says so, you should be able to shower at this point. Ensure to pat the incision dry.
- Three days after surgery: There should be much less pain. You should be able to walk more freely. It’s normal if you still need to occasionally take mild pain relief medication at this point.
- Four to six days after surgery: There should be very little pain now and it should be decreasing day by day. It’s normal to experience some discomfort and to need occasional pain relief.
- One to two weeks after surgery: You should be able to return to work, but you may need more time off if your job involves manual labor.
- Two to four weeks after surgery: You should be well on your way to recovery now and able to return to work (exceptions may exist for people with physically demanding jobs). Light exercise is permitted and even swimming once the wound has complete healed. Consult your doctor’s opinion before doing so.
- Four to six weeks after surgery: You should be able to perform strenuous activities, such as heavy lifting and running.
- Six weeks after surgery and onwards: You should expect to have fully recovered at this point.
The first seven days after your hernia repair surgery are the most crucial. If your hernia mesh recovery is going bad, here’s what you need to look out for:
- If your post-surgery pain, fatigue and general discomfort last for longer than seven days and prevents you from doing the simplest activities e.g. getting up, getting dressed and walking.
- You should be able to perform gentle activity, such as walking, after one to two weeks. But if your post-surgery discomfort persists and prevents you from doing this, seek medical advice.
- If you cannot return to work after two to four weeks, unless your job demands extreme physical activity e.g. heavy lifting and other manual labor.
- If you’re unable to perform everyday activities after six weeks.
You should be back to full health after six weeks and able to work and exercise strenuously. If you find that you’re struggling to or your healing is taking much longer than expected, seek medical and legal advice as soon as you can.
Why Hernia Meshes are Used
A hernia is a condition where fatty tissues or an organ protrudes through a weakness in the surrounding muscle or connective tissue. This can lead to a visible lump, which may be painful.
Hernias typically occur:
- In the inner/outer groin (inguinal/femoral)
- Through a scar in the abdomen (incisional)
- In the abdominal area (ventral)
- At the belly button (umbilical)
- Inside the abdomen (hiatal)
Traditionally, hernias were repaired via sutures. A surgeon would perform either open or key hole surgery, push the organ back into its cavity and seal the damaged tissue. However, suture surgery tends to see a high hernia recurrence rate.
As a result, meshes were developed. Instead of sewing the two sides of the tissues together, mesh was used to bridge over the hernia defect. As the tissue grows back, the mesh supports it which strengthens the area and lowers the recurrence rate. The popularity of hernia mesh surgery increased and by 2000, more than 90 percent of hernia repairs involved mesh.
But although the use of mesh has its benefits, research found that many patients experienced severe complications, which led to debates on whether surgical mesh is actually doing more harm than good.
I’ve Had Hernia Mesh Surgery. Will I Develop Any Complications?
There’s research to suggest that nearly one-third of people who undergo hernia mesh surgeries experience at least one sort of complication. As well as this, many people don’t experience any immediate side effects. Complications can occur years after surgery – usually up to five years.
This is usually because meshes are made from lightweight, synthetic material. These characteristics mean that the mesh is easily torn or can be incompatible with the body, which leads to a variety of symptoms and complications.
Typical symptoms include:
- Intense and/or chronic pain
- Wound not healing properly
- Flu-like symptoms
- Inflammation and tenderness
It’s important that you consult a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms because they may be a sign of something much more serious. Surgical meshes have been known to:
- Migrate to different areas of the body
- Stick to other organs
- Erode or perforate other organs
- Be rejected by the body
I’m Experiencing These Symptoms/Complications. What Can I Do Next?
1. Consult a Doctor
The first step is to consult a doctor and determine that your symptoms and complications are due to your mesh. Doctors can do this fairly easily, but know that this process can become more difficult over time as there may be other factors that could be causing your condition. So, it’s important that you seek medical advice as soon as possible.
2. Are You Eligible to Make a Claim?
Once you’ve consulted a doctor and confirmed that your symptoms and subsequent complications are a result of your mesh, you may be eligible to make a claim against the manufacturer. Although there is no requirement for companies to perform the necessary clinical trials that thoroughly test the safety and effectiveness of their products, many manufacturers promote their products for unnecessary usage.
For example, smaller hernias don’t require meshes – they can be repaired via suture surgery – and yet, the patients have received meshes and experienced complications as a result. This can serve as the basis for a compelling legal argument.
But, you need to ensure that you’re eligible to make a claim. There’s certain criteria in place for who can file hernia mesh claims and at the moment, lawsuits are only being made against Ethicon’s Physiomesh and Atrium’s C-QUR. Contact your surgeon or hospital to find out which mesh product was used for your repair surgery.
The easiest way to determine your eligibility is to speak to a professional. At Coxwell & Associates, we offer free hernia mesh case consultations.
3. Determine How Much Damage the Mesh Has Caused You
Before you approach an attorney, it’s worthwhile trying to calculate how much damage the hernia mesh has caused you. This means financially as well as physically. Lawsuits are complicated and time-consuming ordeals. You can try and speed up the process by helping your attorney and collecting as much useful information as you can. Document every complication that arises, any dates that are relevant to your surgery and your recovery period.
Consider these questions:
- When did you have the surgery?
- What complications have you experienced as a result?
- Did you need corrective surgery? How much did that cost?
- Will you require any further medical attention and if so, how much will that cost?
- Have you needed to take time off work and if so, how much income have you lost?
- Will you need to take additional time off work? How much income will you lose?
4. Find the Best Attorney to Represent You
You can increase your chances of winning a hernia mesh lawsuit by researching and choosing a qualified attorney who is best for you. You will need someone who has had years of experience with handling mesh lawsuits, particularly high profile cases.
How Long Do Hernia Mesh Lawsuits Take to Settle?
A hernia mesh lawsuit can take several years to settle, or even before the manufacturers are willing to discuss settlement figures because they are such complex cases. Although it depends on several factors, such as your individual case, the hospital or surgeon’s track record and your attorney, these lawsuits require significant amounts of investigation into your medical file and the mesh product before they even go to court.
A mesh lawsuit can be either a Class Action or Multidistrict Litigation (MDL). Class Actions are cases that are tried in groups and everyone in that group receives the same settlement amount. These can take at least one to three years to resolve, depending on the case. If your case is placed under an MDL, it may be resolved quicker.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect?
This varies from case to case as it depends on the complications you’ve experienced, the losses you’ve suffered and the overall impact the mesh has had on your life. Your lawyer can calculate how much compensation you can claim by reviewing:
- How much your surgery has costed (for the hernia and any corrective surgeries)
- How much any subsequent medical attention has costed you
- How much income you’ve lost out on
- How much income you will lose out on (if applicable)
- Punitive damages
Want to Read More on Hernia Mesh Problems and Lawsuits?
Surgical meshes were developed to help hernia patients with their recovery, but recent research has found they seem to be having the opposite effect. Many people are resorting to legal action because their complications have had such a negative, debilitating effect on their lives. But because of the sheer number of lawsuits being made, it’s taking years before the manufacturers are even willing to discuss settlement amounts – never mind the case being closed.
The best way to speed the process up is to be as fully informed as possible. If you’d like to find out even more on hernia meshes, from their history to the recent problems and what the future looks like for the product, visit our all-in-one hernia mesh resource page.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.