Tubal ligations, which have been linked to ectopic pregnancies, are among the preventative sterilization services which insurance companies are required to cover under the Affordable Care Act. Ectopic pregnancies occur when the embryo implants outside the womb, usually somewhere in the fallopian tube. If left untreated, an ectopic pregnancy can lead to a life threatening emergency, such as the one experienced in tan Illinois case where a woman from Wheeling died after her fallopian tube ruptured subsequent to her doctor’s failure to notify her that the results of her ultrasound test indicated a strong possibility of an ectopic pregnancy.
Ectopic Pregnancies Are Often Misdiagnosed
Ectopic pregnancies sometimes require surgical intervention, but in other instances can be treated with methotrexate, a chemotherapy technique that removes the fetus from the fallopian tube in an attempt to avoid life-threatening complications to the ectopically pregnant woman. However, according to a recent article published by ABC News, roughly 40% of pregnancies diagnosed as ectopic are later revealed to be normal pregnancies. For example, according to the article, one woman who was administered methotrexate after being diagnosed with an ectopic pregnancy gave birth to a daughter who had no rectum, vagina or uterus and also had a malformed spinal cord. Per the article, the mother has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and a jury trial is scheduled for early 2013.
Several Published Illinois Cases Contain Fact Patterns Involving Failed Tubal Ligations
In one of those cases an Illinois resident was informed that performance of a tubal ligation procedure would prevent further pregnancies by irreversibly obstructing her fallopian tubes. At trial, she testified that her doctor never advised her at any time that he had lacerated her fallopian tube during her tubal ligation surgery, a mistake which her doctor admitted could have caused the procedure to be ineffective. She subsequently experienced an unwanted pregnancy, and after that she experienced an ectopic pregnancy.
In another case parents brought a medical malpractice action alleging that failed tubal ligation resulted in the birth of a child with congenital hyperactivity disorder. The Supreme Court of Illinois did not allow the parents to recover their damages, because it determined that the birth defects were not a foreseeable consequence of a negligently performed sterilization procedure.
Reversal of Tubal Ligations Does Not Eliminate the Risk of Ectopic Pregnancies
Even if a tubal ligation is reversed, a costly procedure, coverage for which is not mandated by the Affordable Care Act, there is an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy following the tubal reversal surgery. Thus, the women who qualify for free tubal ligations under the Affordable Care Act should carefully consider the risks of their decisions prior to choosing tubal ligation as a sterilization option.
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