"My experience at the mesh clinic"

About: King Edward Memorial Hospital

(as the patient),

I attended the Mesh Clinic at KEMH recently. The doctor I saw asked if I knew why I had been referred to the mesh clinic and I said because of the pain I get in my bladder after I urinate since I had mesh removal surgery earlier in the year. She said that is right and also another doctor I had seen wanted to make sure there wasn't any bits of tape left after the removal, but that going by that doctor’s report she was sure there wouldn't be.

She asked heaps of the usual questions like allergies, medical conditions, other surgeries etc.

She asked me about the Provera tablets I take for endometriosis and how long I have taken them and that as I am a smoker, did I know the risks of smoking while taking Provera. I told her I did, and said when I was in my very early adulthood I had a TIA (transient ischemic attack) because I was a smoker and was put on a strong contraceptive pill. She said that is such important information you should have told me (on the form I filled out in the waiting room it asked if you had had a stroke or TIA in the last 6 months) and then she asked me did I even know what a TIA was and I told her it was a mini stroke.

She said if it was okay with me they would like to do a cystoscopy and also have a look around in my pelvic and vaginal areas to see if there was any tape left behind. I said yes, but the only thing I don't want is more mesh put in because the other doctor had told me if I had incontinence again (which I do) then she would have to put an even bigger piece of mesh in me in an even bigger operation. This doctor said they are not allowed to do that without consent and then she said that anyway they have banned all mesh use in Australia. I said not to my knowledge they haven't, I just heard that Johnson and Johnson had voluntarily removed them off the market. She said to me that yes they are the gold standard ones and that many women are now suffering because they can't have them. I said that's a good thing so it saves anyone else suffering like I am... Well in my opinion the look she gave me I can't describe as anything but pure hate. She said that I shouldn't be listening to the people in the mesh groups so much (I didn't even mention mesh groups or even that I am a member of any) because people are giving incorrect and confusing information and that if I wanted to know anything I should check with the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration).

So then she said you don't have to have the surgery and I said I wanted to have it so we can see what is wrong. She must have told me more than 5 times I didn't have to have it. I asked her when it might be and she said in the next few months. I asked her if I could have it done privately as I had hospital cover and she said the doctors who can do it are all really busy and it would take me ages to get an appointment. She then said that the previous doctor I had seen could do it privately and I said I didn't want her to do it. She then said you do realise they work here and may end up doing your surgery here (at King Edward), and I said yes I understand and that is fine if it is her.

So she said if you decide not to have it let us know in time to give your place to someone else and not to let us know at the last minute. I said of course I would let them know in plenty of time.

I said to her I am going to ask you something which I don't like asking, but could I have something a little bit stronger for the pain, and she said not from me you can't - if you want stuff like that ask your GP... in my opinion her tone of voice was really bad and I felt silly and terrible for even asking.

My daughter and her friend were with me and when we came out they were both in disbelief at how I was treated and both said if a doctor was speaking to them like that they would leave and report them.

I asked to be referred to an occupational therapist and she said she could refer me but there is only one therapist and they are on indefinite leave, so not to expect an appointment anytime soon.

Basically, I left feeling like a malingering druggy that no one cares about.

Today I received an appointment for the procedure to be done later this month which I will be cancelling as I am not subjecting myself to more of this treatment. If doctors don't want to help mesh-injured women they shouldn't be working in the mesh clinic!

Responses

Response from Graeme Boardley, Director, Midwifery, Nursing and Patient Support Services, Women and Newborn Health Service, King Edward Memorial Hospital

picture of Graeme Boardley

Dear Meshie,

Thank you for raising these issues with us. I am sorry that you have had this experience with our health service.

I have spoken to the Medical Co-Director responsible for the Mesh Clinic and we would like to investigate the issues you have raised further, so I would appreciate you contacting our Customer Service Unit to register a formal complaint please.

We always strive to provide the best possible care and feedback such as yours assists our continuous improvement.

Once again, I apologise that you have had this experience with our service and thank you for bringing these issues to our attention.

Kind regards,

Graeme Boardley.

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