Doctors accused of ‘gaslighting’ Scottish mesh victims

Eileen Baxter died after receiving a mesh implant to fix a pelvic organ prolapse. Picture: Contributed
Eileen Baxter died after receiving a mesh implant to fix a pelvic organ prolapse. Picture: Contributed
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Scots campaigners have accused specialist surgeons in the US of “gaslighting” victims of mesh implant surgery by sending a signed letter arguing lawsuits by four states against product manufacturers are wrong.

The term which is used to describe a person who psychologically abuses another by questioning their sanity was used by the Scottish Mesh Survivors group who are looking to bring the manufacturers of mesh implants to account.

More than 20,000 women in Scotland have had the implants in the past 20 years but some have suffered painful and debilitating complications.

Eileen Baxter, 75, from Loanhead, Midlothian, was the first woman in Scotland to have sacrocolopexy mesh repair – an implant to fix a pelvic organ prolapse – listed as an underlying cause of death when she passed away last August.

Her son Mark Baxter said: “I don’t think enough has been done into the dangers of mesh implants – I think the doctors have been ignorant as to the potential effects. We’ve had no updates around my mother’s case and there’s unanswered questions.”

Tens of thousands of women in the US are suing device makers Johnson & Johnson and its Ethicon Inc. subsidiary through consumer-protection lawsuits by four states including Washington and California. Patients say they knew nothing about the potential complications – that have led to permanent pelvic pain, left some incontinent and ruined their ability to work.

Those who have filed lawsuits accuse the mesh manufacturers of duping doctors into performing and recommending operations that could not be reversed and had clear risks.

However, 63 specialist surgeons from Washington last week signed a letter to the state Attorney General arguing the lawsuits were wrong and that they were never deceived and the case is based on a misconception about how dangers posed by medical procedures are assessed.

Elaine Holmes, from Scottish Mesh Survivors, said: “This is merely gaslighting mesh victims.

“The mesh industry is worth billions to manufacturers and they have spent the last two decades doing all they can to protect that lucrative business despite worldwide concern over the numbers of injured women.”

Neil Findlay MSP said: “Mesh is one of the greatest health care scandals of our times and its victims deserve transparency and justice. Mesh manufacturers have damaged lives not just in the US but across the world.”