Who Can I Sue for Hernia Mesh Complications?

When hernia mesh surgery leads to unexpected health problems, you may have a lawsuit against the mesh manufacturer or the surgeon who performed the procedure.

The implant of a mesh screen has become one of the most popular surgical treatments for patients who are dealing with different types of hernia. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that since 2000, mesh-based hernia repair has accounted for 90 percent of groin hernia repair treatments. But the popularity of hernia mesh has corresponded with an increase in complications associated with this kind of procedure, and has given rise to thousands of personal injury claims nationwide.

When something goes wrong with a hernia mesh implant, what are an injured patient’s options? Who is liable from a legal standpoint, and what might a hernia mesh lawsuit look like?

Common Hernia Mesh Complications

Since hernia-type injuries have a high rate of recurrence, health care providers have looked for ways to strengthen a repaired hernia and reduce the chance of future problems. They've found that surgical mesh can be effective. Most hernia mesh is made from animal tissue or synthetic material, with dozens of variations on the market.

According to the FDA, the most common complications linked to the use of hernia mesh include:

  • infection and/or pain at the site of the repair
  • a perforation (or hole) in neighboring tissue or organs
  • mesh and/or scar tissue at the site sticking to neighboring tissue or organs
  • mesh obstructing (blocking) the bowels or bladder
  • mesh shrinking or becoming dislodged, and
  • mesh not performing as designed, causing a recurrence of hernia.

In the most serious cases, the hernia mesh needs to be repaired or replaced, meaning that a second or subsequent surgical procedure is necessary.

If you’re experiencing complications after hernia repair involving the use of mesh, it’s important to talk with your doctor about what’s happening. You can also report the problem to the FDA.

Who Is Liable for Hernia Mesh Complications?

Because every course of hernia treatment is different, the answer to this question really depends on the situation. But, in general, when a patient is experiencing unexpected complications after hernia mesh surgery, there could be a problem with:

  • the mesh itself, which could lead to a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the mesh, and/or
  • the way the mesh was implanted, which could lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon or any other health care professional who provided sub-standard care.

Why does the distinction between these two kinds of lawsuits—product liability versus medical malpractice—matter? These kinds of cases are pretty different in terms of what you need to prove, for one thing. But, more importantly, medical malpractice lawsuits often involve unique procedural hoops for a plaintiff to jump through, such as the filing of a special sworn statement (“affidavit of merit”) or the submission of the case to a pre-lawsuit screening panel. Depending on the state where the lawsuit is filed, there might also be dollar limits on the amount of compensation (“damage caps”) a medical malpractice plaintiff can receive if the lawsuit is successful. (Learn more about medical malpractice cases arising from surgical errors.)

In contrast, a product liability case is usually an easier road from a procedural standpoint (there often aren't special filings or pre-lawsuit screening panels to clear). Also, the plaintiff’s damages aren’t usually subject to any kind of statutory cap. (Learn more about product liability cases involving medical devices like hernia mesh.)

So, what’s the right course of action for your potential case? If you’re experiencing complications from hernia mesh, these aren’t the kinds of questions you need to answer on your own.

Get Help From a Hernia Mesh Attorney

Health problems linked to hernia mesh have given rise to thousands of lawsuits across the country, and prompted several product recalls. If you're thinking of bringing a case of your own, chances are that one or more lawsuits have already been filed over circumstances similar to yours (maybe against the same manufacturer, or over mesh made of the same potentially harmful material).

To get a picture of the current legal landscape of hernia mesh, and a sense of where your potential claim fits in, discuss your situation with an attorney. An attorney who has experience in cases like yours should also have the expertise to determine the proper theory of liability for your claim, and whom you might sue.