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Doctor Must Pay to Raise Boy

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Doctor must pay to raise boy

By Cynthia Banham

July 17 2003

 

 

The High Court stunned doctors yesterday with a landmark finding that a surgeon who bungled a woman's sterilisation is liable for the cost of bringing up her child to the age of 18.

 

Medical groups and doctors warned that the ruling could lead to practitioners refusing to perform sterilisations and could have implications for other, reversible contraception procedures.

 

The ruling had "raised the bar" of doctors' legal liabilities, at a time when the medical indemnity insurance industry was already in crisis.

 

The court split four to three over the question of whether a couple who had an unintended child as a consequence of medical negligence could "require the doctor to bear the cost of raising and maintaining the child".

 

The parents, Kerry and Craig Melchior, already had two daughters when they decided they did not want any more children in 1991. Dr Stephen Cattanach, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, performed a tubal ligation on Mrs Melchior a year later.

 

 

Mrs Melchior told the doctor she had already had her right fallopian tube removed during an an appendectomy when she was 15, so he only operated on the left tube. In fact, she still had her right fallopian tube and in 1997 gave birth to a healthy son, Jordan.

 

She then successfully sued the doctor and the Queensland Health Department for medical negligence and was awarded more than $200,000. An appeal was lodged against one component of that sum - the $105,000 cost of raising Jordan until 18.

 

In a strong dissenting judgement, Justice Dyson Heydon said: "A child is not an object for the gratification of its parents, like a pet or an antique car or a new dress . . . the child has a 'value' which must be fostered whether it pleases its parents or repels them.

 

"It is contrary to human dignity to reduce the existence of a particular human being to the status of an animal or an inanimate chattel . . . It is wrong to attempt to place a value on human life or a value on the expense of human life because human life is invaluable - incapable of effective or useful valuation."

 

But the majority judges - Ian Callinan, Michael Kirby, William Gummow and Michael McHugh - rejected the notion that the birth of a child was "always a blessing, and that the benefits to be derived therefrom always outweigh the burdens". They said Mrs Melchior should keep the costs of raising Jordan because they were directly connected to the doctor's negligence.

 

Dr Andrew Pesce, chairman of the Australian Medical Association's medical professional indemnity task force, said if the ruling pushed insurers to lift premiums for doctors who practise tubal ligations, some could refuse to perform them. It could also have an impact on reversible contraception procedures.

 

He said the decision was a part of a pattern where doctors' liability was gradually increased over time, so that "nobody actually knows what their obligations are".

 

"It raises the bar . . . it gives the legal profession confidence to keep doing these things in general - it just means the situation is made slightly more difficult yet again for doctors."

 

Dr Cattanach said the decision would not help doctors' indemnity costs, and would flow onto medical costs for the community. "This may encourage increased litigation for unexpected failures of sterilisation operations and of course undiagnosed pregnancies in general practice."

 

The Melchiors' solicitor, Ben Gent, said they were "very pleased with the result".

 

"It's a real testament to Mrs Melchior's determination to go the distance," he said.

 

The dissenting judges questioned why, if a doctor was found liable for the costs of bringing up a child to age 18, it should logically stop there, when children could remain dependent on their parents for much longer.

 

Chief Justice Gleeson asked about the costs of a wedding and Justice Heydon cited a Princeton education and expensive overseas holidays, asking: "Can their cost be denied in relation to an unplanned child?"

 

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damn. that really fuckin sux. i mean seriously. usually "proffessionals" fucking up horribly is cause for great amusement in me but this?....... that is just to messed up to laugh at. damn. thanx for the info, needed to learn my 1 thing for the day so why not start early? good topic.

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Originally posted by space base

Doctor must pay to raise boy

By Cynthia Banham

July 17 2003

 

She then successfully sued the doctor and the Queensland Health Department for medical negligence and was awarded more than $200,000. An appeal was lodged against one component of that sum - the $105,000 cost of raising Jordan until 18.

 

fuck queensland, it not their fault the bitch got kncoked up

they gave it the college try.

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Why do we think our doctors are Gods?

The lady said she had one of her tubes removed already, why would he question that?

Either way it is messed up.

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