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Mother claims medical malpractice in wrongful conception case

A mother may be able to sue a physician for the doctor's failure to assist her in preventing further pregnancies. If a doctor performs a tubal ligation, for example, and the patient gets pregnant anyway, the patient may sue the doctor in Louisiana and other states on a theory or tort action called "wrongful conception." In a recent case, the doctor told the now 50-year-old patient that she did not need a tubal ligation because her tubes were "blocked" and she had no possibility of getting pregnant. The patient got pregnant and sued the doctor for wrongful conception, which is considered a form of medical malpractice.

The doctor in this case also told the patient that she did not need any other birth control. Most states recognize the wrongful conception tort and allow a case for damages against the physician. She later gave birth to a child with down syndrome.

Generally, wrongful conception is a claim based on the negligent performance of a sterilization procedure. In the foregoing case, the patient is being allowed to sue based on the incorrect advice that she didn't need the procedure. The theory in the case is that the doctor was negligent in not performing sufficient tests and in not advising the patient more accurately so that she could make an informed decision.

Another kind of tort, recognized only in some states, is called "wrongful birth." This tort essentially gives the doctor a duty to tell the patient that she is carrying an abnormal child, thus giving her the chance to abort the pregnancy. This patient is not suing for wrongful birth; however, she is suing for wrongful conception. The wrongful conception tort is, conversely, totally concerned with the stress associated with worrying about becoming pregnant or being pregnant under circumstances where she specifically told the doctor that she did not want to become pregnant. In Louisiana and other states, that stress is the main component of damages in this type of medical malpractice claim.

Source:, "Michigan woman sues for wrongful conception after doctor said she couldn't get pregnant", June 27, 2016

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