New York Times Article on Mesh Is Off The Mark

    By: Matthew D. Barber, M.D., M.H.S. on Jan 16, 2012

    Last week the New York Times published an article "F.D.A. Orders Surgical Mesh Makers to Study Risks" that misrepresents the FDA's recent announcement requiring postmarketing surveillance studies for single incision mini-slings and transvaginal mesh. The author overgeneralizes and implies that all mesh used to treat stress incontinence (SUI) and pelvic organ prolapse (POP) are included in the FDA's order. By failing to distinguish mini-slings from standard retropubic and transobturator mid-urethral slings, the author does an injustice to our patients. As confirmed by the FDA Advisory Panel on Urogynecologic Mesh on September 9th, 2011, so called first generation mid-urethral slings are the current standard of care for treatment of SUI and an abundance of high-quality research demonstrates that they are safe, effective, and have advantages over older treatments. The article also fails to distinguish abdominal mesh and transvaginal mesh for POP. The misinformation provided by the article will likely make an already difficult conversation with our patients even more difficult and may dissuade women who suffer from SUI and POP from seeking care.

    How has AUGS responded? Last Wednesday, Vic Nitti and I submitted a joint letter on behalf of AUGS and SUFU to the NYT editor that pointed out the article's deficiencies. Today, a more detailed response directed at patients has been posted on the AUGS website as well as our patient portal www.voicesforpfd.org. Coming very soon, the AUGS Mesh informed consent toolkit will be available on-line as a resource to physicians and patients and will include both of these documents as an aid to you if your patients have questions about the article. 

    Finally, I encourage each of you to write the NYT letter editor (letters@nytimes.com) requesting a correction of the article.

    -Matt Barber

    Released: January 16, 2012, 7:37 am | Updated: January 16, 2012, 7:55 am
    Keywords: Announcements |

    Response to NYT article
    By: | Posted: January 22, 2012, 1:07 pm

    It's encouraging to see a response to this article.  As we've learned and continue to learn, even subtle differences in foreign materials used to surgically correct anatomy, whether in joint replacement, vascular grafts, pelvic floor repair or myriad other surgeries can have clinical implications for our patients.  Attempting to distill this evolving understanding into a soundbyte or brief article really doesn't do justice to the complexity of the subject matter, whether educating our non-surgeon colleagues and much moreso when educating the non-medical public.


    It's important that we as minimally invasive surgeons never lose sight of this complexity and utilize every opportunity to educate our patients and colleagues as well as reassure them that we're committed to improving their health and applying what we learn to further improve the state of the art in the use of foreign body and autologous grafts.  If we don't seize these opportunites, too many people will have personal injury attorneys and non-scientist journalists as their primary source of information and primary care physicians who've not been educated as their secondary source.


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