Mother Of Nine Says She Was Sterilized Against Her Will
She wanted doctors to give her a birth control device. Instead, Tessa Savicki of Springfield, Mass., says they sterilized her.
Savicki claims doctors performed a tubal ligation on her without her consent. Now, the 35-year-old mother of nine is suing Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, as well as three doctors and two nurses.
Savicki's nine children range in age from 3 to 21. She tells the Boston Herald she wanted doctors to implant an intrauterine device after the birth of her son, Manuel Flores, in 2006. She specifically wanted a device that would be removable in case she wanted more children, she tells the newspaper. Instead, according to papers filed in Hampden County Superior Court on Nov. 24, 2009, doctors performed the tubal ligation.
The Herald reports Savicki receives medical insurance under the MassHealth program. Under state and federal rules, a MassHealth patient must give written permission for permanent sterilization at least 30 days before the procedure. Savicki claims she never gave that consent.
"There was no medical reason for them to do this," she tells the Herald. "That's my choice. This is my body. I wanted the IUD, so later if I felt I wanted more children, I could have more."
Hospital spokeswoman Jane Albert wouldn't comment on the case. "There's pending litigation. We can't comment, and that holds true for the doctors," Albert tells the Herald.
Savicki's lawyer, Max Borten of Waltham, Mass., tells the Herald that the hospital's treatment of his client amounted to a "total breakdown of protocols."
"There were violations at many, many levels," Borten tells the Herald. Borten is a former obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced for more than 30 years in Massachusetts.
In response to a request for her medical records, a former attorney for Savicki received a letter from the hospital last May that stated: "We regret to tell you that in spite of carefully and thoroughly searching, we have been unable to locate the following medical records: 'Tubal consent form for December 2006.' "
Albert confirms for the Herald that the document was signed and sent by an employee in the Health Information Management System Department.
Physicians named in the suit include Michael P. Plevyak and James Kuo Chang Wang, as well as a third physician who, the Herald reports, has not yet been served.
In court documents, Savicki claims she suffered "substantial pain and emotional distress and incurred severe and permanent physical injuries."
Savicki tells the Herald she brought the IUD into the operating room, unopened and in a box, on Dec. 19, 2006. She adds that she handed the box to the nurse prior to a planned Cesarean section.
Surgical notes reviewed by the Herald indicate she received a tubal ligation.
In 2001, the newspaper reports, Savicki reached an out-of-court settlement with CVS pharmacy and a spermacide company after she claimed she was sold an expired spermacide.
The Herald reports Savicki's nine children have several fathers. She reportedly is unemployed and relies on public assistance for two of the four children who live with her.
She receives supplemental security income for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, she tells the paper. Her mother has custody of three of her children, according to the Herald. Two of her children are grown.
Savicki tells the paper she realizes she might not cut the most sympathetic figure in the public eye, but basic rights are at stake.
"I would never have the right to tell anyone else 'because you have this many kids that's enough,' " she tells the Herald. "That's no one's right to say that. It's my choice. No one has the right to say you've had enough. I take care of my kids. I love my kids. I was not ready to make that kind of decision."Related: Doctor Reprimanded for Secret Sterilization, Choosing a Birth Control Method