Tubal ligation is an increasingly common form of birth control, with more and more women choosing this method of surgical pregnancy prevention. With the increase in these surgeries, however, there are also an increasing number of failed operations and serious complications. Some of these incidents are simply expected complications: others, however, are the result of medical malpracticeby the surgeon.
What is aTubal Ligation?
Tubal ligation actually covers several different variations of surgery. In each, the patient’s fallopian tubes are closed off. Thus, sperm can no longer travel up the tubes to reach the egg, and the egg can no longer travel down the tube. The tubes may be cut, tied, or otherwise altered to reach this result.
What Can Go Wrong?
One common complication after tubal ligation is bowel perforation. During the surgery, the surgeon may nick, cut, or puncture the patient’s bowels (intestines). This can lead to internal bleeding, as well as the leakage of fecal matter into the abdomen, resulting in serious infection.
Bowel perforation may or may not be the result of medical negligence. More often than not, the bowel is perforated because of a deviation from the standard of care in following proper procedures and safeguards. Proving this can be extremely difficult: if you believe that your bowel perforation was due to negligence, talk to an experienced medical malpractice attorney about whether you can pursue a legal action.
The failure to recognize that the bowel was perforated, however, is quite frequently the result of negligence. Bowel perforation produces classic symptoms such as distention or swelling of the abdomen, problems with the patient’s blood work, pain, and fever or other signs of infection. These symptoms require immediate action, and a physician’s failure to recognize them and respond is negligent, and can cause serious internal injury or death. If you have experienced these symptoms after a tubal ligation and your physician did not take immediate action, talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer about your legal options.
What Happens if the Operation Fails?
Although tubal ligation is supposedly permanent, the operation can and does fail. Sometimes, the surgeon simply fails to properly perform the surgery. This is usually medical malpractice, and can result in liability in court.
At other times, the procedure is performed correctly but the fallopian tubes later regrow or reconnect, resulting in pregnancy. Although this can at times constitute medical malpractice, it is more typically an expected potential complication.
Finally, at times the surgery fails because the patient resumes sexual activity before the scarring from the surgery is complete, leaving her vulnerable to pregnancy. This is typically not medical malpractice. However, if the physician or surgeon failed to advise the patient of this risk and recommend that she use another method of birth control for a period after the surgery, this failure to warn can itself be medical malpractice.
When the surgery does fail, the results can be disastrous. Often, the baby develops birth defects, often severe. Additionally, pregnancies after tubal ligation are often ectopic (or “tubal”), meaning that the fetus implants outside the uterus. This requires termination of the pregnancy, and seriously endangers the health and life of the mother if it is not caught quickly.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago tubal ligation malpractice lawyer at Passen & Powell, call us at (312) 527-4500.