Doctors and legal financing companies are pushing women into receiving unnecessary surgeries in a brazen attempt to win legal settlements, according to the New York Times. The article focuses on women who have received vaginal mesh implants – a medical procedure fraught with problems for some women. In the illuminating piece, women with these implants are contacted by legal financing companies, which offer high-interest rate loans to finance removal of the implant. In the end, the women typically receive an unnecessary, and sometimes unsafe, medical procedure that they are then forced to pay for over time, with a high-interest rate attached.
The article describes the process as follows: Women with vaginal mesh implants are contacted by a legal financing company. The women, who may or may not have any side effects from the device, are warned of impending doom – in one instance described by The Times, a company representative told the woman that her life was in danger. These women, understandably alarmed, are then told that doctors can remove the implant and the women can even receive part of any legal settlement from the supposedly malfunctioning device.
Next, the women receive a high-interest loan to finance the surgery, costing approximately 14,000 dollars, and then typically fly to Florida or Georgia – where the legal financing company has a relationship with clinics and doctors. After receiving sub-standard medical care – one woman described being dropped off at a hotel only hours after the surgery, and then put on a plane the following morning still catheterized – a lawyer files a lawsuit against the mesh manufacturer behalf of the women. In many instances, removing the vaginal mesh implant causes more harm to the woman since its fibrous material is meant to be absorbed into the body.
The incentives for the doctors, lawyers, and legal financing companies are obvious. The doctors typically receive 3,500 dollars for performing the surgery, whether it was necessary or not. The lawyers receive a cut of any settlement. The legal financing companies receive either a cut of the settlement or their money back, with a sky-high interest rate attached.
The women are unfortunately the victims. In the best scenarios, they receive a small settlement several years after the device is removed. In most instances, they are subjected to an unnecessary surgery and then forced to pay for it, along with the hefty interest rate. In all circumstances, the women’s privacy has been violated – the legal services company should not have access to the medical records of women who receive the implants. Without proper regulation, this harmful practice will likely expand – the New York Times writes that legal financing companies have started financing hernial mesh implants.