Police have no plans to lay charges against a Pickering, Ont., ultrasound clinic that issued the wrong images to more than 20 parents, saying investigators found it was an honest mistake caused by a computer glitch.
- Expectant moms say Pickering clinic gave them identical 3D ultrasound images
- Baby-photo ultrasound clinics totally unregulated in Ontario
Durham Regional Police investigated 21 complaints from customers in May who claimed they received the same photos from Babyview 3D Prenatal Imaging, but found "no criminality" in the mixup, a press release said.
"A computer error led to the wrong photos being issued with the purchased packages and investigators found no signs of criminal intent," the release said.
A spokesman for the police said he could not get into the details of the investigation, nor could Dave Selby say whether investigators seized the computers in order to come to the conclusion that this happened because of a technical mistake.
The incidents came to light in May when expectant mothers posted their ultrasound photos on a Facebook site and some noticed that they seemed eerily similar. As more parents began posting images of their babies-to-be, they realized that some matched the stock photos on Babyview's website.
Kaley Austin, however, said that the issue is about more than money — it's about losing out on the earliest chance to see what will be her firstborn.
"Even if it was a glitch like they say we're basically paying for their mistakes," she said. "But the money isn't even the whole part of it. We didn't get the experience that we were supposed to receive."
She said she's frustrated to learn the clinic won't face any charges or reprimand from an outside agency.
Austin said she has suspicions that this was more than a technical issue. Looking back on the experience, she said that it's clear there was something amiss as the images on the screen were blurry and the baby's features seemed difficult to make out, something that's been a complaint among a number of other women on social media who say they received stock photos.
"I wanted something done about it, I wanted them shut down," Austin said. "I expected a lot more for the amount that I paid and I didn't get that. So initially I was very upset with the service that I received."
There are actually no regulations governing the practice of medical ultrasounds in Ontario not used for diagnostic reasons. Officials at the College of Physicians and Surgeons have also spoken out about the practice of using sonography for "entertainment" reasons, especially because of its lack of regulation.
When the clinic learned about the complaints on social media, they initially offered customers another session or a partial refund.
Later, the clinic decided to offer a full refund, according to their website at the time. No one could be reached from the firm on Monday.
Austin alleges that the "full refund" the clinic offered amounts to only about $40 — the cost of the pictures themselves — of the roughly $150 spent on the whole process of ultrasound. The expectant mother said she had no interest in either a refund or having her ultrasound redone.
The fact that police didn't find the company criminally liable for what happened, doesn't change the fact that it let its customers down during a particularly intimate moment, Austin said.
"They haven't even actually apologized and now they're not really doing anything for us," she said. "It's just sickening."