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Tubal ligation at center of malpractice suit

South Carolina residents who are interested in malpractice litigation might know about an appellate decision in Illinois allowing the case against a surgeon to proceed despite a motion to dismiss it. A woman filed a suit in 2010 against her surgeon for performing a failed tubal ligation, resulting in the birth of a child with a serious genetic disease.

Both the mother and father are carriers of sickle cell disease, and their children had a one in four chance of inheriting the disease from their parents or there was a chance of becoming carriers themselves. Children who are born with sickle cell disease have severe medical issues throughout their lifetimes while children who are merely carriers of the gene do not.

When the woman's second child was born with sickle cell disease, the parents decided to practice birth control, but this did not work and their third child was born as a sickle cell carrier. The mother sought a permanent method of sterilization and had a tubal ligation done in 2008. She became pregnant again in 2009.

The mother's right ovary was lost at age 12, but the Fallopian tube on the right side remained. Her left ovary was normal and the left Fallopian tube intact. The surgeon had reportedly sealed only the right Fallopian tube during the sterilization procedure rather than only the functional left tube. The surgery error performed on the already useless tube did nothing to prevent her pregnancy several months later.

The medical malpractice suit seeks compensation for the mother's personal injury, lost wages and expenses related to the care of the child with sickle cell disease. Doctors are expected to exercise a duty of patient care, and failing to uphold this responsibility may result in injuries to patients. Those who have been injured by a doctor's mistakes may choose to file legal claims to hold the doctor accountable.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 'Sickle Cell Disease," Jan. 16, 2014

Source: ABC News, "Mom Sues for Wrongful Pregnancy After Failed Sterilization", Katie Moisse, March 18, 2014

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