Dr Geeta Nargund, the former director of the Diana, Princess of Wales Centre for Reproductive Medicine at St George's Hospital in London, is to sue the hospital trust for libel. She was suspended from the unit in October, following the revelation that a number of women had had the wrong embryos implanted into them during IVF treatment at the clinic.
The errors, which occurred in April, involved three women. The first of these had only her 'poorer quality' embryos transferred into her womb, while her 'best quality' embryos were accidentally transferred to a second woman. The second woman's embryos were then implanted into a third woman. Doctors at the clinic quickly realised the mistake and the two women with unrelated embryos were recalled to undergo procedures to prevent the embryos implanting. The error was reported to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), a government body charged with regulating and licensing the provision of fertility treatments.
It was later reported that Dr Nargund had been suspended. Her supporters claimed that her suspension was linked to her decision to report the three-way embryo mix-up to the HFEA and because she was outspoken about the hospital management. But the hospital refused at the time to say why she was suspended, later saying that it was for 'non-clinical matters'. Since the mix-up, the IVF unit has closed.
Dr Nargund is now seeking compensation for 'unfounded and unjustified' allegations made about the way she ran the unit. She is claiming damages for comments made in the press by hospital representatives after her suspension. Lawyers for Dr Nargund commented that she 'emphatically maintains, and seeks to establish, that the centre was well and sensitively managed in circumstances when it was severely underfunded and understaffed - a fact which she had drawn to the hospital's attention'.