$1,500,000 Settlement for Wrongful Birth/Failure to Diagnose Down Syndrome

The firm reached a settlement in this failure in prenatal diagnosis claim against the defendant-obstetricians and the ultrasound technician in their office for failure to diagnose a baby with Down Syndrome and a cardiac defect.

Instead of referring their patients to a radiologist with specialized expertise in performing and interpreting prenatal ultrasounds, the obstetricians choose to perform and interpret ultrasounds themselves in their office. During the first trimester screening, the ultrasounds were incorrectly performed by the ultrasound technician and incorrectly interpreted by the obstetrician so that the nuchal translucency measurement given to the laboratory, allowed the lab to conclude that the mother was at a lower risk for having a child with Down Syndrome than she actually was. That same ultrasound also failed to include adequate images of the nasal bone, a “soft marker” for Down Syndrome.

Another opportunity for diagnosis was missed by a different obstetrician in the same practice who interpreted a later ultrasound. If adequate 4 chambers heart views were obtained and properly interpreted, they would have revealed an AV canal heart defect which is common in children with Down Syndrome, and immediate referral for fetal echocardiogram should have been made.

All of these failures deprived the mother of the knowledge that her infant would be born with Down Syndrome, a heart defect and the opportunity to terminate the pregnancy.,This case also overcame what has become a common defense to failed prenatal diagnosis cases: an assertion in the notes that the mother admitted after the birth, when grilled by her obstetrician, that “she would not have terminated anyway.” The recovery was also made in excess of the obstetricians’ insurance policy due to the distinct failure by the ultrasound technician.

At 3 months of age, the infant required surgery to repair her heart defect. In addition, she has neurological and neurodevelopmental disabilities typical of this genetically determined disorder, requiring medical care and multiple therapies. Since she will be unable to live independently, lifelong supervision will be required.