After a recent four-day medical malpractice jury trial, a Florida jury took only two hours to return its verdict in favor of the defendant Florida OB/GYN and his medical practice.
The plaintiff, who sought $8 million in compensatory damages from the defendants, alleged that the defendant had failed to properly read her ultrasounds during her pregnancy, at which time she would have been able to abort her fetus that was later born with serious medical conditions. The plaintiff alleged that had the ultrasounds been performed in an appropriate manner, she would have been made aware of the fetus’ condition in time to terminate her pregnancy.
The plaintiff was a longtime patient of the defendant OB/GYN and his medical practice. In 2010, when she was 23.5 weeks pregnant and again when she was 27 weeks pregnant, the plaintiff had ultrasounds done at her OB-GYN’s office. The defendant OB/GYN alleged that he advised the plaintiff during both ultrasound visits that the plaintiff’s morbid obesity would severely limit the results of the ultrasounds. Despite the limited value of the ultrasounds, the plaintiff elected to proceed with the procedures. In fact, the ultrasounds of the plaintiff failed to visualize, or had limited views, of the brain, heart, spine, kidneys, and face of the fetus, due to the plaintiff’s habitus.
When the baby was born, the baby was diagnosed with VACTERL association, which is typically defined by the presence of at least three of the following congenital malformations: vertebral defects, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheo-esophageal fistula, renal anomalies, and limb abnormalities (patients may also have other congenital anomalies).
VACTERL association can be difficult to diagnose prior to birth because certain component features can be difficult to ascertain prior to birth. If optimal surgical correction is achievable, the prognosis can be relatively positive, though some patients will continue to be affected by their congenital malformations throughout life (patients with VACTERL association do not tend to have neurocognitive impairment).
Approximately 90% of cases of VACTERL association appear to be sporadic, with little increased risk of having multiple affected individuals within a family, although single or multiple malformations associated with VACTERL association are observed in up to 10% of first-degree relatives of patients with VACTERL association (i.e., there is evidence for an inherited component in a subset of patients). The etiologies of VACTERL association are largely unknown.
The ability to detect features of VACTERL association prenatally, whether through ultrasound or more sophisticated methods such as prenatal echocardiogram or MRI, is very much dependent on the skill and experience of the medical interpreter. Certain features of VACTERL association are often not detected prior to delivery, even with frequent and careful prenatal imaging: the discovery of a single umbilical artery (SUA) may be the first clue to diagnosis.
If you or your baby suffered serious harm during pregnancy in Florida or in another U.S. state, you should promptly find a Florida birth injury lawyer, or a birth injury lawyer in your state, who may investigate your birth injury claim for you and represent you and your child in a birth injury case, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find birth injury lawyers in your state who may assist you.
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