A Superior Court judge in Rhode Island has ordered that the wrongful birth lawsuit filed by the parents of two children born with cystic fibrosis can proceed. The parents have three children, the two youngest of which were born with incurable cystic fibrosis. The parents claim in their Rhode Island wrongful birth lawsuit that they were not timely and properly counseled about cystic fibrosis by the defendant health care providers, and that had they been genetically tested, they would have been determined to both be carriers of the gene mutation responsible for cystic fibrosis, which meant that their offspring would have a one-in-four chance of being born with the serious disorder.
The parents claim that when the wife became pregnant in 2005, she was not counseled or tested for cystic fibrosis. Their oldest child did not show signs of cystic fibrosis and when he was finally tested, he was found to not have cystic fibrosis. The parents’ second child was screened two days after his birth but no genetic abnormalities were detected at that time. Over the course of four years, the second child was treated on multiple occasions by the defendants for diarrhea (abnormal bowel movements), a chronic cough, lung infections, nasal congestion, lethargy, malnutrition, failure to thrive, and for abnormal chloride levels, which should have led the defendant health care providers to be suspicious that the child had cystic fibrosis, according to the parents’ Rhode Island medical malpractice wrongful birth lawsuit.
After the birth of their third child, the baby was screened and discovered to have the gene mutation that causes cystic fibrosis. The second child was subsequently tested and found to have the gene mutation for cystic fibrosis.
The parents’ wrongful birth lawsuit alleges that the defendants negligently failed to counsel them regarding the need for genetic testing and that they were negligent in failing to timely recognize the symptoms of cystic fibrosis in their second child. They further allege that had their second child been timely diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, they would not have conceived their third child, knowing the high risk that their third child may also be born with cystic fibrosis. As a result, the parents allege that they suffered emotional distress and have, and will into the future, incur extraordinary medical expenses related to their two youngest children who have cystic fibrosis. The parents’ Rhode Island medical malpractice wrongful birth lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages.
The defendant moved to have the parents’ wrongful birth claims against them dismissed, alleging that Rhode Island does not recognize a cause of action for wrongful birth. The Superior Court judge cited Rhode Island cases from the 1980s that permitted impaired children to recover their medical expenses that they incur after they become adults, and concluded that the elements of a wrongful birth cause of action are the same as other negligence actions. The judge also cited the duty of physicians who provide medical care involving reproductive decisions to comply with a reasonable standard of care.
If your baby was born with certain genetic disorders that may have been discovered if appropriate genetic testing was timely done during your pregnancy, you may have the basis for a medical malpractice wrongful birth claim. Obtaining the legal advice from a local medical malpractice attorney may help you decide if you may and should proceed with a medical malpractice wrongful birth case.
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