Tubal ligation is one of the more common means of surgically sterilizing a woman’s reproductive system. In a tubal ligation, a woman’s fallopian tubes are blocked, preventing the sperm from traveling up the tubes to fertilize the egg. This form of birth control is permanent and negates the need for continued use of pills, patches, or injections to prevent conception.
Although a tubal ligation is generally safe and effective, medical error during the procedure can render it useless. When this happens, conception may result. Failure of a tubal ligation resulting in pregnancy is often grounds for a medical malpractice suit against the doctor who performed the procedure.
Failed Tubal Ligations
Tubal ligation can fail for many reasons. Oftentimes, a woman becomes sexually active with no backup means of birth control before scarring is complete, which can result in egg fertilization. The tubes may spontaneously grow or reconnect, and occasionally, the operation can be unsuccessful due to medical error during the procedure itself. When pregnancy results from a failed tubal ligation, the consequences can be severe.
A pregnancy after tubal ligation has many inherent risks to both the mother and fetus. Birth defects can result. A tubal pregnancy can occur, often requiring termination of the pregnancy due to significant danger to the mother. However, it should be noted that women choose tubal ligation because they have decided they no longer want to bear children. When a pregnancy occurs after a tubal ligation, parents may be forced to deal with the consequences of an unwanted or unaffordable pregnancy, resulting in serious emotional distress.
Tubal Ligation Malpractice
Proving malpractice after a failed tubal ligation can be difficult, and should only be attempted with the advice of a competent medical malpractice attorney. In order to establish malpractice, it must be found that the doctor failed to live up to a standard of care and that any reasonable doctor faced with the same situation would have acted in a different and more effective manner.
Often, women wishing to prove medical malpractice during a tubal ligation must undergo an additional operation in which a neutral surgeon goes in to check the original doctor’s work. Many women find this incredibly invasive. The second procedure carries its own risks which may outweigh the benefits in certain cases. Most states limit the amount of money that can be awarded for a wrongful birth suit to only cover pregnancy and delivery costs, making it difficult to collect damages for emotional duress.
Oftentimes, wrongful birth malpractice suits following a failed tubal ligation are settled out of court. A skilled malpractice attorney is an invaluable resource to those who wish to pursue a malpractice lawsuit after a failed tubal ligation. In the event of a settlement, the attorney will handle negotiations while being fully prepared to take the case to trial if needed. Complications due to a failed tubal ligation can be significant. Having a capable attorney at hand increases the chances of eventual success.