Australian medical negligence case touches on interesting new debate

Date: Oct 23, 2013

On the surface, it may appear like a standard medical negligence case, but after reading through, it doesn't take long to learn that this lawsuit could pave the way for several others in the near future.

It started when one Australian couple hoped to use in-vitro fertilisation to have a child, which would require a procedure in which doctors would implant a maximum of two embryos to best their chances. The couple that filed the lawsuit claims they signed a consent form that made these parameters clear.

The couple said they were emotionally and financially prepared for twins, but that they would prefer one child. However, the lawsuit states that three embryos were actually implanted in the mother – a mistake the embryo transfer specialist allegedly made by putting three into a catheter, rather than the agreed two.

When the couple ended up having triplets, the two decided to file a medical negligence claim against the fertility clinic and the technician. This, however, could open a Pandora's Box that deals with the right to compensation over civil action regarding the birth of a child that is healthy.

Couple says clinic should be 'held accountable' for its medical negligence

The new mother and father recently spoke to the Inquirer about their situation on the condition of anonymity, stating that while they love all three of their children, they were not prepared in any way to handle triplets.

Their medical negligence lawyer told the news source that the couple "adore their children, but having three babies at once – with all the risks inherent in that – it is not what was agreed between the IVF provider and the couple".

The mother also reportedly suffered gestational diabetes during the difficult pregnancy, and when the triplets were born, they spent two months in hospital recovering from a premature birth.

"We don't take this legal action lightly, we thought long and hard about it, but believe the clinic should be held accountable for the way they mismanaged our IVF plans," the mother stated.

Now, the married couple is filing a medical negligence claim for more than half a million dollars in damages. The bulk of this, they said, will cover the costs of raising the third child.

This was only the second medical negligence case of its kind anywhere in the country.

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