Sterilized woman becomes pregnant, but gets no relief

28 January, 2017

MUMBAI: In a landmark order, observing that none of the sterilization methods can provide a 100% guarantee that pregnancy will not occur, the national consumer commissiondismissed a man's plea who alleged negligence against the government-run ESI Hospitalin Delhi after his wife became pregnant despite undergoing such a procedure.

The commission described the lower forum's order granting her a compensation of Rs 70,000 as "perverse in law" as negligence was not proved. "The doctors used the Pomeroy's Method for the sterilization operation and removed pieces from each of the fallopian tubes.The medical literature indicates that this is the most commonly used technique in India, but even in this technique, the failure rate is 0.3%.It is clear that if the wife of the complainant became pregnant after four years of the sterilization, it cannot be attributed to any negligence on the part of the doctors or the hospital in any manner," the commission said.

In 2006, the complainant Rahul Pal (name changed) had submitted a complaint before the district forum. He said after his wife gave birth to a girl on May 14, 2001 she underwent the sterilization procedure at the hospital.The following day , she was issued a "sterilization certificate". In 2005, Pal said, when his wife went back to the hospital for a checkup, she found out that she was over eight months pregnant. Subsequently , the woman gave birth in October 2005. Pal has alleged medical negligence.


He said that that they had opted for the procedure as they were poor and could not afford another child. The second pregnancy , he said, was a matter of great shock and mental agony .


After the district forum passed an order in Pal's favour, the hospital submitted an appeal in the state consumer commission. However, the state commission dismissed the appeal in 2007, following which, the hospital moved the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.


The hospital denied negligence on their part and said the doctors had taken care to ensure that the pregnancy did not occur again. They submitted that they had used the best available technique to perform the procedure.


Explaining the nature of the procedure, the hospital said that although both fallopian tubes had been cut, with the passage of time, in the natural course, there was a possibility that the tubes would have got reconnected. The hospital quoted from medical literature, cited in an earlier SC judgment, which said that "failure is one of the undesirous outcomes of sterilization.The overall incidence of failure in tubectomy is 0.4 per 100 women per year".