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7 of Bleeding Edge's Most Powerful Moments

The Bleeding Edge documentary put a spotlight on the darker side of the medical device industry. Here are several of the most powerful moments from the Netflix documentary.

  • The Bleeding Edge is a Netflix documentary that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to talking about how patients are affected by medical devices that aren’t working properly. The documentary asserts that one of the key reasons these implants aren't working is because the 510(k) process isn’t as stringent as it needs to be and device firms aren't testing their technologies adequately. Throughout the 98-minute documentary, viewers are introduced to patients trying to make sense of their lives after being hurt or irrevocably changed by being implanted with a faulty medical device.  Here are several key moments coming from the documentary.

  • Even Essure’s Spokesperson Got Sick

    While The Bleeding Edge discusses several devices, Bayer’s Essure is the one that’s discussed the most. It's ironic when it’s discovered that Essure’s own spokesperson, Gaby Avino, a nurse who has both implanted and used the device, has been having issues with the technology years after implantation.  Avino’s journey with Essure comes full circle when she speaks in front of a group of women that have had issues with the technology and offers them an apology.

  • Tower’s Call to Advocacy

    Stephen Tower’s journey is one of the most interesting ones on the documentary, because it shows even a practicing physician can get ill. However, after having a metal-on-metal implant put in after he was diagnosed with degenerative hip disease, Tower comes down cobalt poisoning. The result was tremors and a full psychotic break down that had him trashing a hotel room and writing all over the walls. Tower is able to have the implant removed and his ailments dissipate. Tower even becomes a mini-advocate of sorts recognizing this behavior in other implant patients. He accepts the role – but thinks testing needs to come from the Centers for Disease and Control, FDA, and the medtech industry.

    Courtesy of Netflix
  • Scott Whitaker Defends the Industry

    Sometimes these documentaries can feel a bit one-sided. But the inclusion of AdvaMed’s president, Scott Whitaker helps balance it out a bit. He’s short and to the point, but is able to be a strong and positive voice for the industry. Kudos to him appearing on the documentary.


  • Essure's Heavy Toll

    Ana Fuentes’ story is perhaps the saddest. The botched Essure device sets off a cascade of events that tragically alters her life. Fuentes had lost her husband, her job,and her home, all while the health issues continued. Since The Bleeding Edge filming wrapped, Fuentes has been able to secure a place to live via a local California homeless assistance program and has been reunited with her four daughters. 

    Courtesy of Netflix
  • FDA’s On Camera Silence

    There were some pretty strong assertions made about FDA throughout the documentary. The agency’s silence regarding these issues was incredible. Only answering through written statements did nothing to effectively counter complaints.


  • Vaginal Mesh Issues Highlighted

    Tammy Jackson’s story illustrates the issues with vaginal mesh. She puts a face to the prevalent issue that has plagued hundreds of women and has resulted in numerous lawsuits. What stands out about Jackson’s story is the disconnect between a doctor’s knowledge of the regulatory process and about the device itself. The most telling scene came when one of Jackson’s doctors said the mesh needed to be pulled out, but he had no idea how to remove it.

  • Angie Firmalino’s Transformation

    Angie Firmalino, pictured second from the left,  is the first patient we see in the documentary. At the beginning it’s simple to write off Firmalino as just someone who has suffered from Essure and is trying to move forward with her life. However, Firmalino’s role changes and we get to see her as a driving force behind a Facebook group of 36,000 women who have had Ensure implanted. Her advocacy even leads the group to secure the footage of the original Essure approval panel. 

    Courtesy of Netflix
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