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Fertility doctor who treated octuplets mother should retain his license, judge says

Judge finds that Dr. Michael Kamrava committed gross negligence in implanting Nadya Suleman with an excessive number of embryos in January and July 2008. He recommends that Kamrava complete an ethics course and continue to practice under the supervision of another doctor.

January 25, 2011|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times
  • Michael Kamrava was found to have committed gross and repeated negligence by implanting Nadya Suleman with an excessive number of embryos in January and July 2008.
Michael Kamrava was found to have committed gross and repeated negligence… (Mark Boster, Los Angeles…)

The Beverly Hills fertility doctor who assisted Nadya Suleman in conceiving octuplets should be placed on five years' probation rather than have his license revoked, a judge has recommended to the Medical Board of California.

The recommendation, released Monday, came more than a year after medical board officials first moved to revoke the medical license of Dr. Michael Kamrava.

The state medical board is expected to consider the judge's proposal when it meets Thursday in Burlingame, according to Jennifer Simoes, a board spokeswoman.

Kamrava has been accused of gross negligence and incompetence in his treatment of Suleman, 35, of La Habra, and two other female patients: a 48-year-old who suffered complications after she became pregnant with quadruplets and a 42-year-old diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer after receiving fertility treatments.

Suleman was 21 when she first sought Kamrava's care. He continued to treat her for more than a decade, helping her conceive all 14 of her children through in vitro fertilization.

During administrative hearings last year, testimony about the octuplets' conception established that Kamrava used 16 of Suleman's eggs to create 14 embryos, then implanted a dozen on July 19, 2008. The babies were born nine weeks premature and remain the world's longest-living group of octuplets.

Administrative Law Judge Daniel Juarez found Kamrava committed gross and repeated negligence by implanting Suleman with an excessive number of embryos in January and July 2008. The January implantation did not result in a pregnancy.

The judge also found Kamrava negligent in his care of the two other patients and that in one of those cases, the woman who had advanced ovarian cancer, he failed to keep adequate records.

However, Juarez was not convinced that Kamrava was negligent in his treatment of Suleman from 2002 to 2007, or incompetent in his treatment of all three patients, arguments made by Deputy Atty. Gen. Judith Alvarado at the administrative hearings.

Alvarado had argued that Kamrava should have referred Suleman for mental health treatment when she repeatedly returned for fertility treatments shortly after giving birth. She also alleged that by complying with Suleman's requests to make new embryos rather than use those she had already frozen, Kamrava operated outside standards of care. Alvarado said Kamrava had failed to obtain informed consent from all three patients for IVF treatments and clinical studies.

The judge disagreed with all of those allegations.

"The embryos belong to the patient, who may direct the physician to do with them as the patient sees fit," Juarez wrote, adding that the women consented to Kamrava's treatments and clinical research.

Juarez wrote that he was not persuaded that Kamrava was, "a maverick or deviant physician, oblivious to standards of care in IVF" and that Kamrava "succeeded in presenting a defense to the majority of the allegations" against him.

Instead of revoking his license, the judge recommended that Kamrava complete an ethics course and continue to practice under the supervision of another doctor or a physician's training course.

The judge said he found it unlikely that Kamrava would continue to implant excessive embryos, given the national publicity surrounding Suleman's case.

Kamrava could not be reached at his office Monday. Kamrava's lawyer, Henry Fenton of Los Angeles-based Fenton Nelson, was out of the office Monday and an associate said his office declined to comment.

The attorney general's office did not return calls for comment, nor did Suleman's lawyer.

The 46-page proposed decision by Juarez was dated Dec. 20, but did not become public until Monday, a month after it was received by the medical board. The board has 100 days after receiving a recommendation to decide whether to adopt it. If it chooses not to adopt the decision, the case would be scheduled for oral arguments before the board as soon as the next quarterly meeting May 5, Simoes said.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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