For many couples around Australia, IVF treatments are their best opportunity for safely having children. According to IVF Australia, around one in every six couples in the country are unable to conceive a child, leading many to pursue medical alternatives such as this.
However, a recent case in NSW didn’t go as planned, and errors in the IVF process resulted in a medical negligence claim as the couple believed the practice they attended was at fault. While the prosecuting couple were able to successfully have children as a result of the IVF treatment, there were further complications that could be traced back to the role of the medical professionals involved.
Why did this case result in a medical negligence claim?
According to the NSW Supreme Court, not long after birth, the first of the two children the couple had as a result of IVF treatment began exhibiting signs of learning disabilities and other health defects.
The child was taken to a paediatrician, where it was discovered that the child had Fragile-X syndrome, a malady that results in a specific set of physical and mental traits in those afflicted with it. According to the professional the couple consulted, the chromosome responsible for the illness could be traced back to the IVF clinic.
Upon learning of the diagnosis, the couple had their other child – who was also a product of the IVF process – tested to see if its learning disabilities stemmed from the same cause. The same paediatrician verified that this was the case, and could again be traced back to the embryo used during the IVF treatment.
While the embryo the IVF clinic had access to was provided by the couple, the prosecution reasoned that the medical professionals performing the treatment should have been able to verify the potential health of the resulting child.
What was the result?
The Judge agreed that the clinic should have ensured they were able to adequately test for any issues with the provided specimens that could impact the health of the child in the future. It was also reasoned that neither child would be able to live an independent life as an adult due to the severity of the condition.
As a result, the couple was awarded $100,000 in damages from the clinic.
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