Tubal ligation and reproductive negligence: Erin’s story

Female sterilisation: Tubal Ligation

Tubal Ligation is a permanent form of contraception and is intended to be non-reversible in which the fallopian tubes are blocked or occluded with the placement of clips. It can be conducted by laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) or laparotomy (in which there is a small incision in the lower abdomen to give access to the fallopian tubes) and usually under a general anaesthetic. Tubal ligation might also be conducted during a caesarean delivery. The clip, if effectively placed, prevents the eggs released from the ovaries travelling down the fallopian tubes and coming into contact with sperm. Instead the eggs are absorbed into the tissue. The procedure is very effective in preventing pregnancy. However care must be exercised to ensure that the clip is positioned correctly on the appropriate part of the tube to ensure the tube is occluded, otherwise an egg can travel past the clip and through the fallopian tube. If pregnancy does occur there is an increased chance of ectopic pregnancy.


Reproductive Negligence Case Study: Failed Tubal Ligation – Erin’s story

Erin and her husband had 3 children in fairly quick succession. It was always their plan to have 3 children and no more given the financial pressures of having a young family. To make matters worse all three babies were delivered by caesarean section given issues with her cervix. Erin planned to return to work to ensure that she and her husband could give their kids a good quality of life and a good education. During the third pregnancy, Erin consulted her obstetrician and asked about the options available to her for sterilisation. The doctor recommended tubal ligation after the caesarean.

Erin’s third child was delivered and tubal ligation was performed, with clips placed on her fallopian tubes to prevent further pregnancy. About 8 months later Erin found out that she was pregnant with her fourth child. Whilst they had no plans for another child, Erin and her husband could not morally terminate the pregnancy. The child was again delivered by caesarean and Erin elected for a salpingectomy where the fallopian tubes are removed altogether. The tubes were sent to pathology where it was discovered the one of the clips had been poorly placed very high on the fallopian tube and had failed to block the tube.

The baby was born perfectly healthy, but there was an intense emotional impact of Erin and her husband, who were forced to change their life plans. Erin was also left with serious gynaecological issues as the result of the numerous caesarean sections. Intimacy in her relationship with her husband suffered as well.

Erin was successful in proceedings against her obstetrician for the pain and suffering she endured during the pregnancy, the caesarean, the gynaecological symptoms and the emotional impact on her as the result of the pregnancy and the birth of the unplanned child.

Note: Since November 2002 in NSW damages cannot be awarded for the costs of raising a perfectly normal child or any income loss arising as the result of the time away from the workplace arising from the time to care and raise the child. However, damages are available for the costs of rearing a disabled child over and above the costs applicable to raising a normal child.

The Law Office of Conrad Curry is passionate in ensuring that individuals receive appropriate treatment during all aspects of sterilisation treatment.

If you have been a victim or suffered loss as a result of medical negligence, call us today to speak to our friendly team.


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