Couple Sues Hospital for 'Wrongful Pregnancy'
One mom thought her tubes had been tied by her doctor. The procedure never occurred and a few months later, she got pregnant.
May 28, 2019
A Canadian couple is suing their hospital and doctors after an unexpected pregnancy came months after the mother supposedly had her tubes tied.
Jim and Jen (whose full names weren't made public to protect the family’s privacy) had three kids and Jen decided to have her tubes tied after her C-section brought her twin second and third babies into the world. But the hospital never did the procedure. Jen and Jim found out the procedure didn’t happen with a shock: Jen was pregnant again.
“I was floored,” Jen told CTV News. “The twins were still 10 months old. I was in the thick of it. I couldn’t imagine being pregnant again, I couldn’t imagine having a newborn again. I didn’t want to be pregnant at all.”
“The nurses missed it. The doctors missed it. The administration missed it,” Jim said. “Usually there are safety nets where one of them is going to catch it, but all of these little holes lined up perfect and we fell right through everything.”
The family considered ending the pregnancy but decided to have the baby. They now have four healthy kids, but the couple are suing the hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, for “wrongful pregnancy” with damages of $800,000 Canadian—that’s about half a million U.S. dollars.
“Having been put in a situation where we were confronted with the incredibly difficult choice of terminating or having this unplanned and unexpected baby was traumatizing,” Jen told Parents.com. “It was one of the most difficult times of our life, and the pregnancy itself was an uphill battle for me mentally and emotionally.”
According to CTV News, the hospital denies any negligence.
How This Happens
There are similar stories from U.S. families. In 2014, Michigan mom Lori Cichewicz sued her doctor for wrongful pregnancy after the doctor told her that she wouldn’t be able to conceive and that she didn’t need to use birth control. And Yesenia Pacheco in Seattle sued her doctor for giving her a flu shot instead of her birth control shot. She learned she was pregnant when she returned for her next dose of Depo-Provera.
There are three main types of these cases: wrongful pregnancy, wrongful birth, and wrongful life. A wrongful pregnancy suit alleges that a health care provider was negligent and caused an unwanted pregnancy, whereas the other two are only used in cases where a child is born with a disability because of a doctor's negligent action.
But here’s where things get complicated. There’s no one single national precedent that makes the rule for how much money a family can get for a pregnancy post-tube tying mistake. Some lawyers argue that if the family loves the resulting child, there’s no need for a payout for emotional distress, some courts cap the amount based on medical malpractice law, and some states don’t allow families to sue for the cost of the child’s upbringing.
“If a man got a woman pregnant, he would have to pay child support, right? So, isn’t this kind of the same thing?” Canadian dad Jim said to CTV News.
Jim and Jen’s case will likely go to trial next spring. Until then, the unexpected family of six will be waiting to see the results.