Recent Headlines: Failed Vasectomy Leads to Lawsuit

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After reading the story about the couple in Arkansas that is suing the doctor and hospital because the wife became pregnant and miscarried after her husband had undergone a vasectomy, I understand how a patient could get upset and disappointed about having had that outcome happen to them.

But I'm also disappointed by the fact they're rushing to sue the healthcare establishment for negligence and defamation and are seeking unspecified monetary damages.

Now, I don't know of any procedure that is risk-free. If you go up and down the medical literature, you will always find that there is certain percentage of patients that will experience complications and/or contribute to failure rates. Therefore it seems that we must always sue any doctor who has a complication or a failure in the procedure.

My friends, if this trend continues, we will further weaken our healthcare system.

If you read medical articles written on failure rates of vasectomies, you will find that each and every one of them quotes a small but realrisk of a subsequent pregnancy. I think that many folks hear "small risk" and somehow translate it into "no risk." Failure to communicate this type of information to patients does represent a negligent act on the part of the physician, but if the information is given, then there is a mutual responsibility among doctor and patient of understanding the reality of medicine. A vasectomy can fail within the first 3 months after surgery, and even though the chances are much less, it can also fail one year after surgery.

Yes, I know I don't have all the facts in this case, but let's be fair about what medical science is: not always perfect.