Girardi | Keese

Couple Wins Wrongful Birth Medical Malpractice Claim

A jury recently awarded $3 million to a Portland-area couple in a wrongful birth case. These types of lawsuits are extremely rare and can be awkward for many parents to bring. The parents alleged that a hospital failed to properly do a chromosomal test which would have revealed that their daughter would be born with Down syndrome.

Although the parents in this medical malpractice case have gained international attention - and a few death threats - studies consistently show that up to 89 percent of women decide to terminate pregnancies of children with Down syndrome.

The mother decided to have the chromosomal test because she discovered that she was pregnant at age 34 and a screening indicated that she was at a higher-than-usual risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder. The parents alleged that the doctor removed maternal tissue instead of fetal tissue to do his test, and that the doctor and lab workers failed to recognize that the tissue belonged to the mother, and not the child.

The jury sympathized with the parents, who detailed the struggles that they go through caring for their daughter. Trial testimony highlighted the medical issues that the child will likely face and the fact that she will never be able to live on her own.

"I don't think there's a winner in this," one juror said, "I have two children, and it's hard to watch another mother, another family, go through all that."

Source: The Portland Oregonian, "Portland-area couple sues Legacy Health for $3 million for 'wrongful birth' after child born with Down syndrome," Aimee Green, March 8, 2012

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