News stories abound with cases where a pregnant woman goes into a hospital to deliver a baby and leaves with a tubal ligation that she did not ask for. A tubal ligation can be unilateral or bilateral - that is, a doctor may sever either one or both fallopian tubes, effectively sterilizing the patient. Many times a doctor will perform this during a cesarean section when the patient requests it as a permanent form of birth control if she has decided she does not want to have any more children. However, many times female patients receive this tubal ligation without their knowledge and consent, only finding out when they later try to have children and are unable to do so. In 2001, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that a female patient could bring a claim for negligence against the doctor who performed a tubal ligation during a c-section (see Robinson v. Cutchin, 140 F. Supp. 2d 488 (MD 2001)). Plaintiff, Mrs. Robinson, delivered her sixth child during the procedure and Dr. Cutchin performed a bilateral tubal ligation at that time. Two years later, Plaintiff requested to see her medical records pertaining to the c-section and only then discovered she had a bilateral tubal ligation. She made a claim for the following four counts: 1) negligence, 2) battery, 3) intentional infliction of emotional distress, and 4) loss of consortium. The court ruled she could not bring claims for battery or intentional infliction of emotional distress as there was no basis to conclude the doctor committed any physical injury or performed the procedure out of malice. The court did allow the claim to go to a jury on the question of negligence, as there was a genuine question as to whether the doctor performed the tubal ligation with the patient's consent.
Consent for a invasive operation such as tubal ligation requires prior knowledge of the procedure and voluntary consent by the patient for the doctor to perform such a procedure. If you received a tubal ligation and did not give your consent for a doctor to perform this procedure, call us today as you may have a claim against the doctor.
[Attorney Lombardi's Note: Consent is never assumed and must be proven. Consent cannot be given freely if the risks and expected outcome are not fully explained.]
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