In a significant judgment, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission determined that there was no guarantee of success in in-vitro fertilisation procedures, and set aside the Delhi State Consumer Redressal Commission’s directions to a city-based doctor to pay Rs 15 lakh to a woman.

The woman had alleged negligence in the fertility treatment and claimed she had lost the capability of becoming pregnant due to a failed procedure carried out by the obstetrician and gynaecologist.

“It should be borne in mind that IVF is a complex series of procedures used to treat fertility and assist with the conception of a child. It involves several steps — ovulation induction, egg retrieval, sperm retrieval, fertilisation and embryo transfer. The hospital or any treating doctor will not give assurances or guarantees of the treatment. There are chances of failure by IVF also,” noted a bench of Justice Ajit Bharihoke, presiding member, and Dr S M Kanitkar, member of the panel.

The national commission also said that, going by medical literature, the chances of having a healthy child through IVF depends on many factors, such as patient’s age and cause of infertility.
In her complaint to the state body, the woman alleged the doctor had carried out the embryo transfer despite knowing it would fail. Dr Kochar, in her defence, argued that the patient was informed about there being no guarantee of success.

To decide whether or not there was medical ineptness, the national panel considered the opinion of the medical board of RML Hospital. The doctors on that board had opined, “The success rate of IVF embryo transfer as per international standard is 13.4% in women less than 35 years of age and 3.6% in women above 35 years. The failure of IVF-ET in the present case is in confirmation with the international standard.”

The national commission, therefore, held that “no cure/no success is not negligence” and the liability of the treating doctor was unjustified. The state panel erred in holding the doctor liable without cogent evidence or medical ground, it felt.

Courtesy: NCDRC

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