The Beverly Hills fertility doctor who treated octuplets mom Nadya Suleman has been expelled from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine for a “pattern of behavior” detrimental to the industry, a spokesman for the association confirmed Monday.
The disciplinary action was approved by the association’s board in September and first reported over the weekend by USA Today. The move does not bar Dr. Michael Kamrava from continuing to practice, but sends a strong signal to prospective patients that the doctor’s standards and history are outside the group’s acceptable limits.
Kamrava came under scrutiny in January after Suleman gave birth to octuplets, only the second set in U.S. history. As a single mother with six children already -- all conceived through in vitro fertilization -- her case raised questions about fertility industry ethics and how many embryos should be transferred, particularly to healthy women.
Kamrava transferred at least six embryos to Suleman, who at the time was 33 with a history of successful pregnancies. Most fertility doctors follow guidelines that recommend implanting no more than one or two embryos in women younger than 35.
“It is an action we do not take lightly and it’s one we do not take very often,” said Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the medical association. “This is a pattern of behavior that is detrimental to our field and not up to our standards. . . . We would sure like to see that patients would take it as seriously as we do.”
Tipton said the state medical board will be notified of the board’s decision to revoke Kamrava’s membership in the professional organization.
Prior to the Suleman case, Kamrava treated a woman in her late 40s who became pregnant with quadruplets. In that case, the doctor had transferred at least seven embryos, using eggs from a donor in her 20s.
A woman who answered the phone at Kamrava’s office said he would not be commenting on the matter.
After the births, the Medical Board of California said it was looking into the matter to determine whether any standard of care was violated. Kamrava was never specifically named as a target of a probe.
In the wake of the furor over Suleman’s babies, some states have attempted to enact stiffer laws to govern the $3-billion industry, which is largely self-regulated.
On Monday, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine announced stricter guidelines on embryo transfers at its annual meeting in Atlanta.
Those guidelines explicitly state that recommended limits are the same for fresh and frozen embryos. If a patient has a poor prognosis, the guidelines say that a doctor may implant one additional embryo, but only after counseling the patient about the risk of a multiple birth and documenting that counseling in the medical record.