You have a right to your medical records. Here’s what to do if you need to find out which product was implanted inside of you. It should be on your medical record, but when you simply ask for medical records, it’s often excluded, especially if you have an electronic record.
Not every hospital organizes medical records the same way and most made the transition from paper to electronics in the past 2 decades. You may have to do some investigating to see where your label is.
All implants come with a label (or sticker or log) with a unique tracking number and an expiration date and the country where it was made. Your hospital is required to let the manufacturer know who got which product and a record is supposed to be kept with the manufacturer. (Incidentally, I’ve never heard of a manufacturer contacting a mesh patient about a recalled defective device like car makers do).
- Ask your medical records department at the hospital where the surgery occurred for your complete “Operative Report” including any product labels. Tell them it might be on a separate piece of paper and may be only in your paper file.
- Search your operative report for it or for a notation by the circulating nurse that would name the product and include a serial number, usually preceded by a “#” symbol and, hopefully with an expiration date. (The date only refers to how long the sterilization process will last, not the device.) In an electronic record, look for a typed notation with a serial number. With that number, you can do an online search for your product name.
- If you do not find it, go personally to your hospital and speak with the director of Medical Records. Describe what you’re after and don’t take no for an answer.
- Failing all that, and if you have a copy of the note your surgeon dictated after your surgery, you are welcome to send it to me and I can narrow down to a few possibilities for what kind of mesh yours is.
- As a last (and expensive) resort, hire a lawyer to get it for you.
Note: You may have to pay a reasonable fee for your paperwork.
Peggy Day is working on a book to combine all these stories. This is an excerpt from Pelvis in Flames: Your Pelvic Mesh Owner’s Guide. Your input is welcome to help make Pelvis in Flames the book you need to read.
If you’d like to join an online support group and learn about erosion, partial removals, surgeons, or just find out that you are not alone, join my group, Surgical Mesh or check the list of support groups here.
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