When should you file a legal claim involving a fertility treatment?

If you feel that you've experienced poor treatment from medical professionals during your fertility procedures or if you've suffered as a result of an error, you may be entitled to file a claim for medical negligence.

Fertility treatments are not risk-free, but they are extremely safe when carried out by qualified professionals. When something does go wrong, it's important to establish whether the issue was preventable and whether the hospital or clinic is at fault.

That's why you should take on the services of a skilled and experienced attorney who can help you get to the truth and get a fair resolution to your case.

What are fertility treatments, and what counts as malpractice?

If a couple are having trouble conceiving, they can seek help from doctors who can offer a range of treatments. Common procedures include IVF and IUI, drug therapies and surgery to correct problems.

While the majority of these treatments go smoothly and many couples get the child they hoped for, sometimes there can be complications. If you believe that these complications could have been avoidable or that you've suffered needlessly because of an error, then you need to discuss this with a lawyer and find out if you could make a claim.

There have been several high profile cases involving fertility malpractice, most notably that of American television personality Nadya Suleman (dubbed the 'Octomum' after she gave birth to octuplets in 2009) and her doctor. Suleman's doctor Michael Kamrava was struck off due to negligence and poor IVF management – by implanting too many embryos into his patients, he put them at risk of dangerous multiple pregnancies and the babies in danger of premature births.

Thanks to advances in DNA testing, cases have also come to light where it has been proven that the wrong embryos or sperm were implanted, leaving couples raising children who weren't biologically theirs. Although rare, cases like this are obviously very distressing for everyone concerned.

There are many examples of medical malpractice that people are unaware of – being given the wrong drugs, dosage errors, surgical failings, laboratory mix-ups and more. If you didn't receive the high standard of care you expect and you've suffered negative consequences as a result, then you could have a case.

How can you build a strong case?

Time is a key factor in taking your case to court: you need to act quickly to ensure that evidence is still available and that your case meets legal requirements in regard to timescales.

It can be costly to pursue legal action, but there is help available and a good solicitor will advise you on the likelihood of success in your particular circumstances.

Every case is different and having a full picture of the issues involved will help your legal support to fight your case to the best of their ability. Keep notes, retain documents and make sure you can produce copies of disclaimers, contracts and other paperwork.

What are the chances of a successful result?

As stated, each case is different and depends on a number of different factors. However, fertility has been the central issue in a wide number of medical negligence claims where the decision has favoured the patient, and there's a strong precedent across most fields to help guide your own case.

However, there's also many barriers to overcome, and proving malpractice or negligence can be tricky. Your legal advisor can help you assess the chances of winning against the cost and time of taking action, and will establish with you whether your case is viable.

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