Medical Malpractice During IVF
From debating about nursery colors to fretting over costs, having a baby is an emotional, exciting time for many couples. But for people with fertility issues, a world where they experience the joys and anxieties of pregnancy can seem heartbreakingly impossible. Luckily, there are many options for couples who cannot naturally conceive, including in vitro fertilization.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process of fertilizing an egg outside of a woman’s body. During a cycle of IVF, eggs are removed from the woman’s uterus and mixed with sperm, creating an embryo. Then, the embryo is inserted into the uterus. If all goes well, the embryo attaches to the uterine lining, leading to pregnancy. Some couples use their own eggs and sperm for the process, while others use donations. In certain situations, couples may also use a surrogate, a woman who carries and delivers their baby.
IVF is common among people who struggle to naturally conceive. Infertility can be the result of:
- Uterine fibroids
- Impaired sperm function
- Previous sterilization, like tubal ligation
The IVF process is complex, and it can be expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally exhausting. Like a natural pregnancy, IVF comes with risks, including an increased chance of a premature birth.
IVF and Medical Malpractice
Beyond the traditional risks of pregnancy, the medical nature of IVF means that unique issues can also arise through negligence or inadequacy. While undergoing IVF, someone could suffer from harm from irresponsible or negligent actions like:
- Inadequate screening of donated sperm or eggs
- Failure to diagnose or disclose any issues
- Improper use of anesthesia
- Mishandling of the eggs, sperm, or embryo
- Errors or improper behavior during the egg removal procedure
When a doctor at a fertility clinic does not meet the standard of care, it could lead to serious harm. For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose a genetic disorder in the embryo, the child could be born with severe defects or complications. Or if unclean equipment is used, the woman could suffer from an infection or internal injury.
Issues with mishandling and storage can also have a serious emotional impact. A major example of this is currently unfolding in California, where a couple is suing their fertility clinic for implanting their embryo in the wrong woman, resulting in another woman giving birth to the couple’s biological son. A similar issue occurred at an Ohio fertility clinic in 2018 when a storage tank failure destroyed over 4,000 eggs and embryos.
Your Rights as a Patient
When harm arises as the result of a fertility clinic’s negligence or inadequate procedures during IVF treatment, it might be medical malpractice. Like all medical professionals, doctors specializing in IVF are expected to uphold the standard of care for their patients.
In vitro fertilization is an emotional, invasive procedure, and a doctor’s negligence can add extra stress to an already turbulent time. This is why finding a trusted doctor is such an important task, much like picking out the perfect baby name!
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