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Parents cite medical negligence in lawsuit after wrongful birth

Suffering the effects of an incomplete, inaccurate or unnecessary surgical procedure can be devastating for patients all across Atlanta. No matter how small a medical error may have been, people can live the rest of their lives with a painful reminder of that mistake. 

This is the situation that one family in another state is facing after their second child was born with sickle cell anemia. The genetic disorder on its own can be devastating enough to deal with, but this case was complicated by the fact that the parents had gone to extreme measures to avoid having a second child. The mother had opted to have a tubal ligation to prevent pregnancy, but a mistake was made during that surgery and the parents ended up having a second child who also had sickle cell anemia.

The parents have filed a wrongful pregnancy and medical malpractice lawsuit pursuing damages, including extraordinary expenses.

According to the lawsuit, the parents had already had one child born with sickle cell anemia. Because it is a hereditary disease and both parents were carriers, they decided to take measures to avoid having anymore children who would suffer from the tragic symptoms associated with sickle cell anemia. After discussing their fears, concerns and wishes with their doctor, the parents agreed that the mother would undergo tubal ligation.

However, after the procedure, the mother learned she was pregnant. It was only after their daughter was born and diagnosed with sickle cell anemia that the parents learned the doctor had not completed the full tubal ligation procedure. They filed a lawsuit against the clinic and the doctor.

A panel recently shot down challenges to the lawsuit by the defendants, who argued that they should not be held responsible for the extraordinary expenses stemming from the wrongful birth. These expenses can be pursued in cases when people will end up paying huge amounts of money over a long period of time as a result of a medical error.

The panel ruled that because the doctor knew the parents did not want to have any more children due to the potential for genetic abnormalities and was still negligent in the sterilization procedure, the parents could continue to pursue their claim for extraordinary expenses. This was just one step in toward finding some resolution in this case, but it was certainly a critical one.

Source: The Cook County Record, "Panel: parents in wrongful pregnancy suit may seek extraordinary expenses," Kenneth Lowe, March 17, 2014

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