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Tubal ligations and vasectomies are procedures that are used as an effective means of birth control, keeping a woman from becoming pregnant or keeping a man from inseminating. If the procedure is done properly and patients have followed their doctor’s post-operative orders, patients should be certain of the success rate of these procedures.
Other reasons a couple may choose a permanent method of birth control include:
- Age of the couple
- Inadequate finances to raise a new child
- Possibility of congenital or inherited health issues
Sometimes these procedures result in pregnancy due to the negligent practices of doctors who failed to effectively complete them. There are a variety of reasons people may undergo these procedures, including genetic diseases, inability to physically carry out a pregnancy, or simply preference. A wrongful pregnancy after a tubal ligation or vasectomy can be dangerous for women who cannot physically carry a baby, or can result in expensive medical costs for the care of a disabled or sick child. New parents can also be overwhelmed by sudden and unintended general childcare costs.
Tubal ligation is a sterilization technique that seals off a woman’s fallopian tubes. Once a month an egg is released from the ovaries and travels down one of the fallopian tubes where insemination occurs. In tubal ligation the fallopian tubes are sealed, clamped, or otherwise closed off to prevent the eggs from descending and prevent sperm from reaching the egg.
For most tubal ligations, doctors make a small incision on the woman’s abdomen and insert a scope to reach the fallopian tubes. To complete the procedure doctors can use devices with electrical currents to seal off or burn the tube, or they can place rings or clamps on the tube. There is also a method of placing a small object in the tub that induces scar tissue, closing off the tube.
About 700,000 tubal ligation procedures happen every year in the United States. The failure rate is about procedures after one year, and the failure rate increases after about 10 years, increasing to 18.5 failures out of every 1,000 procedures.
Tubal ligations typically cost between $1,500 and $6,000 depending on the procedure.
Vasectomies are the men’s sterilization technique to prevent sperm from leaving the body. Doctors will block or cut the tube that leads to the testicles, keeping sperm out of seminal fluid.
About 500,000 vasectomy procedures happen every year in the United States. The failure rate is about 1 in every 1,000. 1 in every 1,000
Vasectomies cost up to $1,000.
Other forms of Birth Control
A wrongful pregnancy can also occur as a result of a defective or incorrect prescription of birth control. Though all forms of birth control come with the risk of pregnancy, there specifically of malfunctioning birth control which have resulted in pregnancy.
Damages from Wrongful Pregnancy
The clearest damage that parents can seek compensation for is the cost of the failed procedure, either the tubal ligation or vasectomy.
New parents can also seek compensation for medical costs that result from lifelong illness or disability in their child.
The Maryland Supreme Court has stated that when “prospective parents, relying on the negligent act or omission of a health care professional, elect to continue a pregnancy that they otherwise would have lawfully terminated and, as a result, are burdened with the cost and expense of raising a child with a serious genetic or other physical or mental defect, they have been injured and have a right to seek damages for that injury from the person whose negligence led to the injury. That right is a matter of important public policy in this state.”
Parents can also seek compensation for the cost of raising a child, including child care services.
Other costs new parents may seek compensation for include:
- The procedure (vasectomy or tubal ligation) that failed
- Terminating pregnancy
- Cost of childbirth
- Any mental or physical harm that resulted from the pregnancy, including mental or physical harm to the child who was the result of the mistaken procedure
- Cost of lost wages. Courts can also place a dollar value on the lifestyle cost for a woman to become pregnant
- Childcare services
Though tubal ligations and vasectomies are effective means of birth control, they are not always 100% successful. If a doctor properly performed one of these procedures and it still resulted in pregnancy, the doctor will not be liable.
Maryland courts also recognize “wrongful birth” when a doctor fails to diagnose serious medical conditions in the fetus, or fails to sufficiently warn a couple about their chances of having a child with a serious medical condition. Essentially these cases revolve around the couple’s lost ability to make an informed decision to determine if they want to continue the pregnancy.
Contact Gilman & Bedigian
If you had a pregnancy or birth after a negligent tubal ligation or vasectomy, you may be eligible for compensation. There are high, unanticipated costs that come with an unexpected pregnancy, and there are even higher costs to pregnancies that were not meant to happen because of serious congenital conditions in the parents. The attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian are experienced in medical malpractice suits, and are dedicated to helping your family through the complex legal process. Call our offices to learn more about your options.