Over $6 million over lifetime for missed diagnosis caused by family physician’s failure to carry out conventional screening and monitoring of pregnancy

Mom, a Kitchener resident, became pregnant with her second child. For the most part, her pregnancy was overseen by her family physician. She attended regular antenatal checkups, during which the physician would record his findings.

For several of those visits, the physician did not record an assessment of the fetal heart rate or the symphasis-fundal height (SFH). On one occasion, he noted a discrepancy between the gestational age and the SFH measurement, but he did not do any follow-up investigations.

He also failed to order a routine second trimester ultrasound.

As a result of Mom’s concerns regarding decreased fetal movement, the doctor ordered a second ultrasound examination. The ultrasound was significantly abnormal and revealed supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) -abnormally fast heartbeat. It also revealed hydrops- an excessive amount of fluid.

The next day, Mom was transferred to a downtown Toronto hospital for treatments, which successfully corrected these conditions.

Labour and delivery were uneventful.

The child’s motor development was delayed. He could not sit unsupported or crawl until 10 months of age. He had abnormal foot posture and had not yet started to walk at 18 months of age. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.

It was our contention that the family doctor failed to meet standards of care in the following ways: he failed to determine the fetal heartrate during antenatal visits; he failed to order a screening ultrasound; he failed to respond to the discrepancy in SFH measurements. These failures resulted in an unacceptable delay in identifying and treating the abnormalities.

Now a teenager, he suffers from both physical and cognitive deficits which are expected to worsen with time. He has difficulty maintaining his balance and walking, and is unable to run. He suffers from headaches caused by fatigue, and pain in his legs, hip and back. He has cognitive processing deficits as well as weak impulse control and impaired attention.

Sommers Roth & Elmaleh Professional Corporation has over 40 years of experience in medical malpractice litigation in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario, and across Canada.

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The above information is not legal advice. Past results of cases and recoveries by our medical malpractice lawyers against hospitals, doctors, midwives, nurses and other healthcare professionals are not necessarily indicative of future results. The amounts recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts in individual cases.