Closer scrutiny demanded for fertility practices concerning health and expenses.
Local elected officials are putting political muscle behind
the investigation into practices used by Dr. Michael Kamvara, the fertility
doctor who recently gained notoriety because of his involvement with Nadya
Suleman, the mother of octuplets born Jan. 26 and another mother who received
in-vitro fertilization and is expecting quadruplets.
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth sent a letter to the California
Medical Board encouraging the continued investigation of Kamvara, and Los
Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich led a unanimous charge of the
supervisors in demanding an investigation into requirements that doctors follow
medical guidelines regarding the safety of multiple births.
Both Suleman and the unnamed expectant mother, who is
confined to bed rest at County-USC Medical
Center, are receiving government
In the case of the octuplet birth, it is reported that
Kamvara implanted at least six embryos, which resulted in eight babies.
Guidelines from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine advise that no
more than two embryos be implanted in a woman between the ages of 30 and 35 and
that “a high order multiple pregnancy (three or more implanted embryos) is an
undesirable consequence (outcome) of assisted reproductive technology.”
"Dr. Kamvara's practices certainly raise some ethical concerns," said
Smyth. "A number of my colleagues, doctors and non-doctors alike, are
watching the Medical Board's investigation very closely, and looking forward to
seeing the results.”
Currently there are no laws regulating the number of embryos that can be
transferred during in-vitro procedures. – one who gave birth to octuplets, and
the other who is pregnant with quadruplets.
"What is particularly troubling, given California's
current fiscal crisis, is that taxpayers will end up picking up the tab for
most of the medical expenses associated with these births," said Smyth.
"That also includes the lion's share of the payments made to Dr.
In the letter, Smyth urges the California Medical Board to act quickly, while
making sure that Dr. Kamvara's actions receive a thorough investigation.
"It's important that in addressing this reckless behavior we don't rush to
impose overly burdensome regulations," Smyth said. "Before we choose
to implement a legislative solution, we need to understand the depth of the
problem. I don't believe that the actions of this doctor are indicative of the
entire medical community, but the Legislature is certainly interested in the
outcome of the Board's investigation."
The county Board
of Supervisors asked the state’s medical board to review the guidelines and
address problems such as the possible liability of fertility doctors in
multiple birth cases where the action of the doctor threatens the health of the mother and babies, as well
as the assessment of a prospective mother’s psychological fitness.
“Licensing agencies must require physician compliance with
clinical standards and the Medical Practice Act when assessing a doctor’s
fitness to practice medicine in California,”
said Antonovich. “The doctor who treated this mother has placed the long-term
health and safety of these infants in jeopardy. Medical advances in this field
require a fresh look at clinical ethics and standards as well as the financial
burden placed on the community as result of the actions of physicians.”
In the opinion of the supervisors, the state licensing
agencies, in this case the Medical Board of California, should be evaluating
physician compliance with these and other clinical standards when assessing whether
a doctor is fit to practice medicine in California .