Medical Verdicts

Cerebral palsy due to too many embryos?


<court>Bronx County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

A 29-year-old woman underwent in vitro fertilization and 7 embryos were transferred to her uterus. She became pregnant with triplets and at 5 months developed cervical dilation noted by sonography. She was instructed to cease working. In vitro fertilization. Four days later, the woman presented to the doctor’s office, at which time she was admitted to the hospital.

Four days after admission, the patient went into premature labor. Over the next 6 days she delivered the triplets, all of whom suffered cerebral palsy.

The plaintiffs sued the doctor who performed the implantation, alleging that no more than 2 embryos should have been transferred to the woman’s uterus at 1 time. The transfer of 7 embryos, they argued, was negligent, as this increased the risk of a multigestation pregnancy, which in turn increased the risk of preterm birth. They also sued the physician who reviewed the abnormal ultrasound, arguing that the doctor should have ordered bed rest at that time.

  • The 2 defendant physicians and the defendant hospital settled, agreeing to contribute $14 million into a structured settlement expected to pay more than $100 million.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn ( While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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