The case began when a 32-year-old woman began to investigate her family tree. She knew her parents had used a donor for conception, as they had struggled with fertility issues. When her own son began to suffer from severe health problems she began to investigate her family history to see if there was a genetic explanation.
What she discovered led her and her mother to file a complaint with the Texas Medical Board (TMB). Based on this complaint, the group has agreed to review allegations of “unprofessional and unethical” conduct by an obstetrician.
What did the woman discover that led to allegations of professional misconduct?
The woman’s allegations are in response to medical care received in 1986. At that time, the couple received care from an obstetrician for fertility problems. The couple had agreed to use a sperm donor from California. After five failed attempts, the physician used another donation. The donation was his own, provided when he was medical resident.
The donation was successful.
The physician states he received approval to combine a donation from a local donor with the California sample. The couple disagrees, stating he did not discuss the change and moved forward without their consent.
The family initially requested a review based on a failure of the physician to follow the accepted standard of care. The TMB dismissed the claim, stating it was barred by a time limit set by the statute of limitations for standard of care probes. The investigation was recently reopened, with a focus on whether the conduct was ethical.
Why is this case important for doctors in Texas?
All doctors in Texas can learn two important lessons from the dispute:
- Complaints may survive time limitations. It is important for physicians to realize that there are cases that survive the statute of limitations. Do not disregard a complaint under the belief it happened too long ago to move forward.
- The law changes. A law was recently passed which will make similar actions illegal.
The TMB investigation could result in a suspension or even revocation of the physician’s medical license. We will provide updates on the progression of this case as they become available.