Prenatal Misdiagnosis: Birth Defects, Genetic Conditions, and Medical Malpractice

The prenatal misdiagnosis of birth defects can turn one of the happiest times a family shares – the joy of adding another child into the fold – into a sad and scary time. Prospective parents rely on the expertise of OB/GYNs and other doctors to make strategic decisions about healthcare that can impact both the mother’s health and the baby’s health. Undiagnosed birth defects and genetic conditions can leave families financially, emotionally, and medically unprepared for the care and assistance they need to offer their child the best quality of life and treatment.

Prenatal misdiagnosis

Typically, when a woman learns that she is pregnant she will seek medical care to confirm. Once a doctor has confirmed the pregnancy, a number of steps will be taken to help ensure a healthy delivery. Patients, regardless of age or perception of pregnancy risk, are typically offered the following screenings:

  • Blood tests or screening for the following conditions as applicable: cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, Sickle Cell disease, Canavan Disease, and Thalassemia;
  • A thorough medical history and family history should be taken to identify additional risks and screening needs, including the need for specialized genetic testing due to ethnic risk factors;
  • First trimester screenings to measure Nuchal Translucency, as well as related blood test, to help identify Down Syndrome risks;
  • Testing between the 15th and 20th weeks for hCG (human chronionic gonadotropin), AFP (alpha-fetoprotein), DIA (dimeric inhibin-A), and UE3 (estriol) to assess risks for Down Syndrome, spina bifada, and other birth defects;
  • An ultrasound is typically conducted between the 16th and 22nd weeks of pregnancy to further check for fetal abnormalities.

How Misdiagnosis Occurs

Prenatal malpractice may become a concern at multiple points during the medical process. One is a failure by doctors to take an adequate history or to perform tests according to medical best practices. Another is to detect a potential issue, and fail to follow up with additional blood tests, ultrasounds, or appropriate testing to gather all the information that parents should have about their child’s development and the health implications. Finally, doctors may fail to accurately interpret test results and as a result critical diagnoses are missed. Other issues include improperly dating a pregnancy, laboratory misinterpretations, or even misplaced records.

If you’re a parent who is dealing with the devastation of a prenatal misdiagnosis of health issues, birth defects, or genetic conditions, contact us today. The experienced attorneys at Rasmussen & Miner will review your case and determine whether you may be eligible for financial compensation that can help ease your burdens and ensure the best care and quality of life possible for your child.