An expectant mother with a known predisposition to give birth to a baby with a debilitating genetic disorder was denied the prenatal care she was entitled to after her doctor read a screening test incorrectly. Mom and father, both Toronto natives, were carriers of myotonic dystrophy (MD), a degenerative disease which attacks the muscles. She also had hypothyroidism and a benign heart murmur. When she became pregnant for the second time, she was concerned, since she had been pregnant in the past with a fetus that had the disorder.
She underwent an amniocentesis, a procedure which tests the fetus for genetic abnormalities and infections, as well as chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to test for chromosomal abnormalities. All the tests were negative, suggesting that MD was unlikely despite her risk factors. As a result, her care in the months leading up to delivery proceeded as if the fetus was healthy. When Mom’s membranes ruptured at 34 weeks’ gestation, she was given antibiotics just prior to delivery, but at birth, the baby had a flat heart rate. The baby was cyanotic (purple), from lack of oxygen, and stopped crying almost immediately.
A repeat DNA analysis on the CVS was carried out by the Ottawa defendants after birth. The repeat test was reported to demonstrate that an error was made in the interpretation and the diagnosis of MD was confirmed.
As a result of the defendant’s negligence, the child will require ongoing rehabilitation therapies, individual assistance to participate in school programs and full time caregiver assistance with all aspects of daily living including eating, dressing and mobility. She will likely require this type of care throughout her adulthood as well.
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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