Doctor reprimanded for secret sterilization

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Health & Safety: Babies, In The News


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Last year, when a woman in Berryville, Arkansas went into the hospital to deliver her baby by Cesarean section, she did not request or authorize her doctor to also perform a tubal ligation. But that minor detail didn't stop Dr. Shirolyn Ruth Moffett from doing just that. Dr. Moffett claims that she surgically ensured that this woman would never have another child because she feared that the patient's uterus would burst if she ever got pregnant again.

Not only did Dr. Moffett perform this procedure without permission, she failed to inform the woman after the fact and made no notation of what she had done on her medical chart. "I know now that was a mistake," she told the Arkansas State Medical Board. "I had not made this kind of error my whole medical career. I was appalled."

She was appalled? I imagine the woman who underwent this forced sterilization was even more appalled. Officials at St. John's hospital, where the procedure took place, clearly understood the gravity of the situation and stopped Dr. Moffett from seeing any more patients. But regulators at the Medical Board feel a reprimand is more appropriate to the offense and voted last week to allow Dr. Moffett to keep her medical license.

How is this possible? I don't get it and neither do officials at St. Johns, who released a statement expressing surprise at the decision. If performing an unauthorized and secret tubal ligation is not an offense worthy of losing a medical license, what is?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.