Earlier this month a judge in Massachusetts approved a $7 million settlement for a family who claimed medical negligence in the birth of their daughter. The child was born with a rare genetic disorder called cri-du-chat syndrome, which resulted in severe facial abnormalities and intellectual/cognitive impairment. The disorder is caused by a chromosomal abnormality which was readily detectable by genetic testing. Had the abnormality been discovered early enough, the family could have made an informed decision about whether to proceed with or terminate the pregnancy.
Definition of Genetic Counseling
Genetic counseling is defined as the communication by one or more specially trained and skilled individuals to a counselee and his or her family about the diagnosis, genetic mechanism, prognosis, and alternate courses of action available to manage a genetically determined disorder. The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association has identified the following indications for referring a patient to a genetic counselor:
- Genetic or congenital anomaly in a family member;
- Family history of an inherited disorder;
- Abnormal development in a child;
- Mental retardation in a child;
- Pregnancy in a woman older than age 35;
- Certain ethnic backgrounds with a higher rate of genetic abnormality;
- Drug use or long-term exposure to certain toxins;
- Three or more abortions, early infant death, or both; and
Failing to refer a patient to a genetic counselor, or a genetic counselor’s failure to correctly diagnose a genetic condition that later manifests itself when the baby is born or to inform a patient of the consequences of being a carrier of a genetic defect, are all grounds for potential liability. Many of the children born with these conditions bear a lifetime of expensive care and continued medical treatment. The financial recovery from a medical negligence lawsuit can help to ease the financial burden on the family and also serve to protect others from receiving similar substandard care.
Experienced Colorado Medical Malpractice Attorneys
If you are the parent of a child born with a genetic disorder, including Tay-Sach’s disease, sickle-cell anemia, phenylketonuria (PKU), or any other genetic disease, and you suspect that you were not given proper genetic counseling, you may have a cause of action against your doctor and other medical providers. For advice and assistance from experienced Colorado medical malpractice attorneys, please contact Paulsen & Armitage, LLC.