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Un-edited statements from the health sector and beyond

ACC admit they had not noticed the sharp rise in surgical mesh treatment injury claims

Mesh Down Under Monday 20 March 2017, 10:57AM

Media release from Mesh Down Under 

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is required to inform the Ministry of Health when they receive new information which shows a huge increase in adverse events or serious concerns relating to any surgical procedures.

The latest numbers of mesh related treatment injuries were obtained through the Official Information Act by Select Committee petitioners and founders of mesh patient support group Mesh Down Under Charlotte Korte and Carmel Berry. The figures showed a sharp rise in the number of decided claims and in fact claim numbers doubled in just over three years (with a total of 301 decided ACC surgical mesh injury claims from January 2014 to March 8 2017).

ACC Chief Medical Advisor Peter Robinson met yesterday with Charlotte Korte and Carmel Berry to discuss the numbers and their impact on public health and safety.

“Peter explained that the OIA request had caused quite a fuss in the Treatment Injury department as it highlighted that they had not noticed the ‘blip’” said Carmel Berry. 

“He went on to say that it is unacceptable to have these kind of numbers that they don't know about and that he was really worried because they don’t understand how this has happened.”

Peter Robinson went on to add, that even more concerning, was that these figures only include ‘decided claims’ not claims that are under review or in the ‘pipeline’ waiting for a decision. 

“Section 284 of the ACC Acts states that ACC is obligated to report a belief of risk of harm to the public to the authority responsible for patient safety. Clearly as the number of mesh injured patients is even bigger, ACC should have noticed, and they should have seen a red flag and contacted the Minister of Health” said Korte.

Berry added “Medsafe’s public database of surgical mesh related Adverse Event reports show that only 79 adverse event reports were received from ACC since 2005. Yet there have been 301 decided claims in just the past three years made to ACC for surgical mesh treatment injuries that should be included on that database.”

Robinson assured Berry and Korte that all claims were being reported to Medsafe in their monthly report of all treatment injuries but that this information hadn’t been included on the Medsafe website. He admitted that work needs to be done around the Medsafe and ACC’s reporting system and that he would talk urgently with Medsafe’s Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Simpson to identify what can be done to harmonise the information. 

“It’s critical that the full scale of adverse events are published by Medsafe as this is a place for potential mesh patients to gain an understanding of the risks.” said Berry “ Mesh Down Under will be following up with Medsafe directly as well”.

In June 2015 ACC established a treatment injury “Injury Prevention Team” which Robinson confirmed had been put together as a direct result of the surgical mesh petition (submitted to Parliament by Berry and Korte in 2014). 

“It was confirmed in the meeting that this team is about to add surgical mesh to their priority programmes and that we will see some reporting on this in approximately seven months” said Korte. 

“It is disappointing that ACC have not been monitoring the mesh situation as they stated they would back in 2015, but we are pleased that because of this Official Information Act request ACC have now promised to look into this further”.

“We felt the meeting was both positive and productive and the surgical mesh issue was once again recognised by ACC as an area of concern” Korte stated. “We look forward to their investigations and hearing about what specific steps they will take to help address the flaws in their own internal systems and some of the issues surrounding the use of surgical mesh.” 

ACC will meet with Berry and Korte in the near future once they have had time to look into this matter further.

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