Female Sterilisation Claims

Female sterilisation is a popular form of contraception, however it is also responsible for more legal claims than any other single surgical procedure. This is primarily due to either a failure to obtain consent or because the operation was unsuccessful. If you have undergone a female sterilisation procedure that you believe was performed negligently, JMW can help you secure the compensation to which you are entitled.

Contact our friendly clinical negligence team today by calling us on 0800 054 6512. If you would prefer for us to contact you, simply complete our online enquiry form and we will be in touch at a time convenient for you. We can provide the support you need throughout your female sterilisation claim.

About Female Sterilisation

Female sterilisation is a method of contraception that involves the fallopian tubes, which link the ovaries to the uterus, being blocked or sealed. As a result, a woman's eggs should be prevented from reaching sperm, thus preventing the likelihood of an egg becoming sterilised.

These eggs, which will continue to be released from the ovaries as before, are then naturally absorbed into the woman's body. Sterilisation is usually performed under general anaesthetic, although depending on the method used, can also be carried out under local anaesthetic.

The vast majority of procedures are effective, however there is always a risk that the operation will not go to plan and this can lead to unwanted pregnancy.

Risks of female sterilisation can include:

  • The sterilisation could fail and the fallopian tubes could rejoin, making you fertile again
  • When the tubes are blocked, there is a small risk of complications, which can include infection and internal bleeding
  • If a pregnancy does occur after the operation, there is a greater risk of it being ectopic, which involves the growth of the fertilised egg outside of the womb

How the Operations are Performed

In the past, many sterilisations were performed via a laparotomy (opening of the abdomen) and the most popular and successful was the Pomeroy technique. This involved drawing the tube up into a loop and then tying off the base with catgut. The loop was then cut off. This method is still sometimes carried out using a laparoscope and is usually highly effective.

Nowadays the vast majority of sterilisations are performed using laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). The most common laparoscopic techniques include:

  • Application of clips (otherwise known as Hulka-Clemens or Filshie techniques)
  • Application of silastic rings (otherwise known as falope rings)
  • Using heat to cut the tubes (diathermy coagulation). This method, however, is becoming less common due to high failure rate

Why Mistakes Can Occur

Surgical mistakes are more likely to occur with the closed laparoscopic method than with the abdomen open at laparotomy, particularly in the hands of an inexperienced surgeon, and it is not uncommon for the round ligaments in the pelvis to be mistaken for the fallopian tubes.

When clips are used, it is important that they are applied to the narrowest part of the tube (the isthmus). If they are applied to the wider part, they may not completely occlude the tube. Most surgeons now apply two clips to each tube in an attempt to reduce failure rates.

Regardless of the method of sterilisation used, and however expertly it is performed, operations can still sometimes fail. The two main reasons for this are:

  • The two halves of the divided fallopian tube can come together and rejoin (recanalisation)
  • The formation of a fistula (an abnormal passage) between the tube and the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity). This happens most commonly with diathermy coagulation

Female sterilisation is not a foolproof method of contraception and all women undergoing the procedure should be warned of possible failure.

In cases where a woman becomes pregnant shortly after the operation (in less than 12 months), it has been suggested that this is more likely to be due to surgical error than simply 'one of those things'.

Why Choose JMW?

Our expert solicitors are happy to offer free initial advice on any matter relating to medical negligence. If you believe that you, or any member of your family, have a potential claim, contact us for a no-obligation chat about your situation and we can advise you of what will happen next.

Regarded as one of the very best in the UK, our clinical negligence team is headed by leading solicitor Eddie Jones and we pride ourselves on our proactive and professional approach and are committed to securing the very best outcome. The team includes members of the Law Society's specialist panel for clinical negligence the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitor panel.

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To speak to an experienced solicitor about your female sterilisation negligence claim, either call us for free on 0800 054 6512 or complete our online enquiry form, which will allow us to contact you at a convenient time. We can answer your questions and provide the guidance you need to get your case off to the right start.

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