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'Octomom' doctor faces negligence allegations

October 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The doctor who helped octuplets mom Nadya Suleman repeatedly conceive faced allegations of negligence at a hearing by the California Medical Board on Monday.The board accused Dr. Michael Kamrava of implanting Suleman with 12 embryos in her last pregnancy. That number is twice the amount Suleman claimed Kamrava implanted for each of her pregnancies.

Suleman gave birth to octuplets after receiving in vitro fertilization treatments when she already had six children at home and was also unemployed at the time.

Suleman received a lot of heat from the public for her choice to continue fertilization treatments, but now her doctor is facing tough questions.

The state Board of Medical Examiners alleges that Kamrava displayed repeated negligence in implanting too many embryos into Suleman, putting her health and the health of her babies in danger.

At the hearing, Kamrava sat quietly as an expert witness was called to the stand for the board. Dr. Victor Fujimoto, the director of the University of California San Francisco In Vitro Fertilization Program, testified that Kamrava dramatically deviated from what's considered the normal amount of embryos to be put into a patient and created a high risk for multiple pregnancies.

"I cannot imagine any colleague of mine transferring that many embryos," said Fujimoto, adding he'd never transferred that many himself.

The board also faults Kamrava for not referring Suleman to a mental health professional after she repeatedly sought fertility treatments even after she already had six children in such a short time.

Suleman was never mentioned by name but was referred to only as "N.S."

"I believe that Dr. Kamrava exceeded a standard of care and he acted below the standard of care in his treatment of three patients that are outlined in the accusation," said Deputy Attorney General Judith Alvarado. "The testimony was he implanted an excessive number of blastocyst embryos into patient N.S. over the course of the treatment with the respondent."

Kamrava's attorney did not comment.

"It is not just simple negligence, meaning he was not careful, a mistake," said Judith Alvarado, deputy attorney general. "We're talking about more than a mistake. Gross negligence."

Before the octuplets were born in January 2009, Suleman was divorced and unemployed, and her six children lived with her mother and were dependent on food stamps, loans and disability payments for her two autistic children just to get by.

More recently, Suleman has tried to use her notoriety for income through the tabloid media, but she struggles to pay rent and is currently facing a $450,000 balloon payment on her La Habra home.

Kamrava is the director of the West Coast IVF Clinic in Beverly Hills. He was expelled from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in September, after the non-profit group cited a pattern of behavior detrimental to the industry. However, his medical license was unaffected.

The board's accusation says Kamrava was also negligent in his treatment of two other patients.

Kamrava allegedly implanted too many embryos in one patient, resulting in the death of a fetus, and failed to refer another woman to a cancer specialist after finding cysts on her ovaries.

Depending on the outcome of the hearing, which is expected to last 10 days, the board could suspend or revoke Kamrava's license to practice medicine.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.


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