Genetic Testing Error Attorney
Were you or your unborn baby the victim of medical malpractice that led to a birth injury? Did the obstetrician make a genetic testing monitoring error? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers handle medical negligence cases and can serve as your legal advocates.
Call our birth injury attorneys today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.
Any change or mutation in the fetus's genes or chromosomes could pose a significant health risk if a severe disorder, health condition, or birth defect is present. Genetic testing can identify many of the diseases and conditions affected by mutated genes that could include:
- Down syndrome
- Cri-du-Chat syndrome
- Edwards syndrome (Trisomy 18)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Patau syndrome (Trisomy 13)
- Turner syndrome
Any missing copy of an X chromosome or Y chromosome could lead to genetic disorders, including Tay-Sachs disease, Sickle cell disease, Spinal muscular dystrophy, and others. Physicians can order genetic testing to answer concerns involving debilitating diseases and disorders after the child was born.
Any failure to accurately diagnose symptoms and provide needed treatment could result in medical malpractice. Physicians should recommend a diagnostic test for any patient with a suspected/abnormal/positive non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) result.
Accurate diagnostic tests can help the family manage their decisions, including pregnancy termination. The doctor should conduct an informed consent discussion that involves a prenatal screening regimen to help clarify any of the mother or father's misperceptions about the diagnostic test results.
What are Genetic Disorders?
Human genes are the building blocks of our heredity, where genetic code is passed from parents to a child. Human genes hold DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid), the molecule composed of two polynucleotide chains coiling around each other to form a double helix.
The double helix contains genetic instructions for developing, functioning, growing, reproducing organisms and many viruses. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA) are nucleic acids that hold the building blocks for creating proteins that do nearly all the work inside cells.
Protein transfers molecules, breaks down toxins, builds structures, and performs cell maintenance. But unfortunately, the human genes can mutate, which changes the code's instructions for producing protein, causing it to work improperly, if at all.
The mutation is a genetic disorder that could be inherited through a gene mutation from one or both parents or outside sources over the human's lifetime. Scientists identified the three different kinds of genetic disorders that include:
- Single-gene disorder – The mutation affects only a single gene, like in the development of single-cell anemia,
- Chromosomal disorder – The mutation causes a missing or changed chromosome or part of a chromosome structure that holds the genes. For example, down syndrome is a common chromosomal disorder,
- Complex disorder – The mutation changes one or more genes. Complex disorders are usually developed through environmental or lifestyle changes, like developing colon cancer.
Doctors identify genetic disorders through genetic tests involving blood and other body tissue. Many obstetricians recommend prenatal testing during the mother's pregnancy to identify any genetic disorder from one or both parents. In addition, prenatal testing can identify any increased risk of birthing a child with a genetic disorder.
The family's obstetrician can also test for spina bifida, the most common neural tube defect, and cystic fibrosis, a leading genetic disorder. In addition, physicians can recommend amniocentesis that is typically performed between 14 weeks and 20 weeks.
Amniocentesis involves collecting amniotic fluid through a needle containing cells shed by the fetus that can be analyzed for a genetic disorder in a laboratory setting.
An accurate diagnosis of a genetic disorder could also lead to more treatment options after the child is born. In addition, prenatal testing can also help identify severe conditions, including congenital hypothyroidism and phenylketonuria.
Parents should encourage their doctor to perform prenatal screening to help inform the family when there is an increased risk. Knowing that the child might have a genetic disorder helps parents make significant decisions involving their family.
Who is at Risk for a Genetic Disorder?
Typically, there are specific risk factors for acquiring a genetic disorder. Usually, only one parent with a chromosomal abnormality might pass the genetic disorder down to their child.
Also, advanced maternal age, where the mother is 35 years or older, or advanced paternal age, where the father is 40 years or older, increases the potential risk of a genetic disorder.
A mother who has experienced multiple miscarriages or prior stillbirth is more likely to have a fetus with a developed genetic disorder than women who have not experienced pregnancy difficulties.
The pregnancy might be considered at risk if:
- The mother is over 35 years of age
- The biological father is over 40 years of age
- The mother had a previous child with a congenital disability
- The mother had a previous spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or a previous stillbirth
- The family on either side has a history of genetic diseases
It is crucial to understand that some congenital disabilities, illnesses, and developmental delays could be caused by prenatal exposure to environmental factors, including drugs and alcohol.
Ethnicities that may be at risk for genetic disorders or diseases include:
- French Canadians (Tay-Sachs Disease)
- Ashkenazi Jews (Tay-Sachs Disease)
- Black Africans (Sickle Cell Disease)
- Mediterranean (Sickle Cell Anemia, Alpha & Beta Thalassemia)
- Arabic (Sickle Cell Anemia)
- Indian (Sickle Cell Anemia)
- Pakistani (Sickle Cell Anemia)
- Chinese (Alpha & Beta Thalassemia)
Genetic screening might also find other disorders, including Duchenne dystrophy, Fragile X syndrome, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and neurofibromatosis.
Many genetic conditions are more common in specific ethnic groups, including sickle-cell disease that occurs more often in the Mediterranean, African and African-American heritage. Alternatively, Tay-Sachs disease is more likely to develop among people of eastern and central European (Ashkenazy) Jewish and French heritage.
Individuals belonging to an ethnic group typically share specific genetic versions passed down to descendants from their common ancestors. Therefore, any common gene shared among an ethnic group containing a disease-causing mutation will likely be frequently seen in the group as a particular genetic disorder.
What are Your Doctor's Obligations to You Concerning Genetic Testing?
Your doctor or the nurse practitioner is obligated to ask you about your ancestry, family, and genetic background. They should ask whether your family has a history of genetic issues. They should ask you to write out the different ethnicities of your ancestors for both you and your partner.
Your OB-GYN should not make assumptions on whether or not you're in an at-risk group based on physical appearance. Even someone who has a removed ancestor who's in an at-risk group could still be at risk of having a birth defect.
If you fall into any at-risk categories, your doctor should offer you the option of a test. It is a good idea to follow the advice of a healthcare professional to go through with the testing and learn the test results.
An example of a genetic test is something called chorionic villus sampling. The insurance company covers genetic tests, so you should not have to pay much, if anything.
Whether or not you conduct the test is up to you. Many of the tests are unobtrusive, requiring just a blood draw or a saliva sample. However, some tests are more intrusive, requiring tests of the uterus or fetus.
In each case, your doctor should let you know what the pros and cons of conducting the test are before asking if you'd like to take the test.
Failure to Conduct Diagnostic Tests: A Case Study
In 2003, an OB-GYN agreed during the trial to pay $1.25 million in damages. His mistake? He failed to conduct a crucial genetic test.
The couple had a child born with Canavan Disease, which they were at risk for as they were of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. However, their doctor failed to advise them of their potential risk or to offer them the option of genetic testing.
As genetic testing becomes more prevalent and more diseases become detectable through genetic testing, the responsibilities of doctors to conduct these kinds of tests also increase.
If you fall into an at-risk category, your doctor is legally required to offer you genetic testing options.
The doctor should administer the diagnostic test and discuss the test results. A failure to do so could be considered medical malpractice.
Further, the doctor must also read the test results correctly. Misread genetic test results may also be medical negligence and grounds for a medical malpractice case.
The Importance of Genetic Testing and Genetic Counseling
Genetic counseling can help the family understand exactly what went wrong and why their child was born with a genetic disorder. In addition, a genetic counselor can review genetic test orders and identify common mistakes from misinterpreted laboratory results.
Typically, a genetic counselor will review the child's medical history and family history, identifying detectable birth defects. Unfortunately, many medical malpractice cases based on genetic disorders include errors like false positives from a tainted sample that led to an inaccurate diagnosis.
In some cases, diagnostic testing could have identified a fetus with the genetic condition but was never adequately communicated or diagnosed by the physician. A misread genetic test is often grounds for medical malpractice, giving parents the right to file a compensation claim against the doctor at fault.
Experienced Illinois Attorneys Assisting Families With Misread Test Results Lawsuits
The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you when the errors of a health care provider have caused an injury. For example, we have handled medical malpractice cases of birth injuries and wrongful death.
Our law firm has been helping Illinois families for years when they have potential medical malpractice cases. If you have a potential lawsuit, call us today for a free consultation.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Filing a medical malpractice case against a healthcare professional often requires jumping over procedural hurdles. Usually, a medical malpractice case is highly complex and requires the experience of a reputable personal injury law firm to ensure that all the paperwork is filed before the statute of limitations deadline expires.
These cases often rely on pre-law requirement compliance that might involve review boards, medical experts' affidavits, and a notice of intent to file SUI. Not following the required procedures could determine if the claim is allowed to proceed.
All copies of medical records will need to be obtained, and health care providers and their insurance companies must be notified when the medical malpractice complaint is filed.
The personal injury attorney working for the plaintiff (injured victim or family members) will need to prove the four elements of a lawsuit that include:
- A patient-doctor relationship existed
- The doctor was negligent in providing the standard of care
- The doctor's negligence led to the victim's injuries
- The victim's injuries are actual and provable
Typically, the damages include medical bills, hospitalization costs, lost work, future lost earning capacity, mental anguish, physical pain, and suffering.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers for Genetic Testing Negligence
Did your doctor fail to offer the option of genetic testing? Did your doctor fail to let you know if you were in an at-risk group? Did your doctor misread the genetic test results before you birthed a child with a birth defect? If so, chances are you have legal recourse for malpractice.
You can contact a medical malpractice attorney to learn how you become a plaintiff in a court case against the healthcare professionals that failed to provide you with appropriate care.
A malpractice lawyer will review the medical records and consult with experts to help advise whether you have a potential claim. A medical malpractice lawsuit requires an attorney with knowledge of birth injury cases.
Lawsuits against medical professionals often come down to a review of the doctor's action to determine if they were reasonable. Your plaintiff's attorney will assist you during every step of your legal action.
Many previous birth injury cases show strong precedent for failure to conduct or misread genetic testing. To learn more about what kind of legal recourse you may be entitled to, call our law office today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or complete the contact form on this page to schedule a free initial consultation.
All confidential or sensitive information you share remains private through an attorney-client relationship. Many medical malpractice cases have already been resolved through million-dollar settlements to ensure families have sufficient financial compensation for providing all the treatment and caring their child requires.