Modern medical technology and testing can inform expectant parents of debilitating problems affecting a pregnancy. Prenatal testing allows parents to plan for the birth of a child afflicted with a disease or disorder or to make the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy. When medical personnel mishandle the procedure or misinterpret the results, parents are left without the vital information needed to make the best decisions for their lives and their families.
A Difficult Decision
This was the unfortunate case for a Portland, Oregon couple, Ariel and Deborah Levy. The couple sued Legacy Health System in Multnomah County Circuit Court, winning $29 million to help them pay for the extraordinary costs of raising a child with Down syndrome – a child they would have decided not to have, had they known about the developing baby’s condition.
Medical professionals regularly offer assurances that a pregnancy is normal through administering and interpreting prenatal tests. Relying upon these assurances when the test was botched exposes a family to life-shattering negative consequences. Because of the considerable expense of providing specialized care for the child, families can face financial ruin. Local news website OregonLive.com reported the Levy’s story, noting that 89 percent of pregnant women choose to terminate their pregnancy upon learning that their child would be born with Down syndrome.
One Tragedy Becomes Two
CBS.com reported on a second case with even more tragic consequences. Assured by a physician specializing in genetic disorders that there was no risk of having another child with the profound disabilities suffered by their first son, Daniel and Amara Estrada were shocked to give birth to a second son with the same severe disabilities. One child born with an unexpected birth defect is unfortunate. When a geneticist’s missed diagnosis leads parents to have another impaired child, an already difficult situation turns tragic. Neither son can communicate, and both will require constant care for life.
Had the geneticist correctly diagnosed the older son’s condition, the parents would have terminated the second pregnancy. The medical error destroyed this family’s chance at having a normal life for at least one child. The jury awarded $21 million to help care for the child, but unfair Florida laws limited the family’s compensation to just $200,000. The limitation occurred because the suit was filed against a doctor employed by the University of South Florida, a government institution.
An Impossible Stress
Families with children suffering from these avoidable situations can be cast as monsters who do not love their children. Nothing could be further from the truth. Families find themselves burdened with the expense of caring for a child, who they naturally love, despite the birth defects. Unfortunately, their love cannot pay the cost of giving that child the best life possible, despite the disabilities. Parents are simply helping the child as best they can by securing compensation to pay for the highest quality of care.
If you or someone you know faces the painful scenario of providing for a child born after an improper diagnoses or prenatal test, we can help sort through the devastating ramifications of a medical provider’s error. Our experienced attorneys will meet with your at no charge to discuss compensation that might be available to help pay for the cost of raising your special needs child. The law limits the time available to file a claim, so contact us quickly.