Saturday, November 14, 2009
Fertility Doc Uses Wrong Sperm
When patients see a medical license framed on a doctor's wall, they assume his credentials have been checked and that the state has done due diligence about his practice behavior. That wasn't the case for patients who saw Dr. Ben D. Ramaley in Greenwich, Conn. In 2002 he performed insemination on a woman patient, but he did not use the husbands sperm. Twins were born but the husband was black and the mom was white and the twins did not look bi-racial. The couple did a paternity test that proved the husband was not the father. The couple filed a lawsuit months later and charged the doctor with using HIS OWN SPERM. The lawsuit was settled in 2005 without the doctor ever undergoing a DNA test. He did admit to using "the wrong sperm" for the insemination.
In 2006, the Dept of Public Health launched an investigation into his care practices. They found numerous problems including other instances where the standard of care had been seriously violated. His record keeping was poor and there was no systems to verify and maintain identity of the sperm sample. No DNA analysis was done on him to confirm if he used his own sperm.
In 2008, Dr. Ramaley received a $10,000 fine from the state and was allowed to continue practicing medicine. He has a unrestricted license. He continues to practice in Southport, Conn. There would really be no way any of his patients would know about this case or assume he is anything but a wonderful fertility doctor.
I have no idea if Dr. Ramaley used his own sperm to inseminate a patient. We cannot know if the fact that the husband was black played any role in the "accidental" switch of sperm. What we do know is that a physician did not practice to the standards that are expected and the error was an "extreme and outrageous act".
Doctors rights to fair process are paramount in a democratic society. But patients have rights too and it is up to the State to protect the rights of patients to know that a doctor's license meets certain standards of care.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 8:33 AM