$2.9M awarded to parents of girl born with Down syndrome
KOMO News: (Portland, OR) The parents of a child who was born with Down syndrome have been awarded $2.9 million in a wrongful birth suit filed against the hospital Legacy Health. Jurors ruled the hospital showed negligence when doctors told Ariel and Debora Levy their unborn baby would not suffer from Down syndrome.
The Levys said their decision to move forward with the pregnancy had been based on this information, and argued the doctors had been “negligent in their performance, analysis and reporting” of test results. The Levys’ child, a girl, is now 4 years old.
“It’s been difficult for them,” said David K. Miller, the Levys’ lawyer. “There’s been a lot of misinformation out there.” Miller said the point of the case is not whether the Levys would have terminated the pregnancy if they had known their unborn baby would be born with Down syndrome. Rather, the case aims to hold Legacy accountable for having failed to properly process the screening test.
“These are parents who love this little girl very, very much,” Miller said. “Their mission, since the beggining, was to provide for her, and that’s what this is all about.” Miller said he was confident the jury awareded the Levys the right amount – $2.9 million. The hospital, however, disagreed.
“While Legacy Health has great respect for the judicial process, we are disappointed in today`s verdict,” Legacy spokesman Brian Terrett said in a prepared statment. “The legal team from Legacy Health will be reviewing the record and considering available options. Given this, we believe that further comment at this point would not be appropriate.”
The case brought up broader questions regarding genetic testing. Patricia Backlar, professor of biomedical ethics, said she believes genetic testing is helpful for expecting parents. “If they want to have prenatal testing, it means they have some worries or the clinician has some worries,” she said. “You want to make sure you’re prepared as well as you can be in case something is awry.”
But she said, like anything, errors are inevitable.
“Not doing harm is of great importance to most clinicians, because that’s why they have gone into the profession,” she said. “The reading of some of these tests can be complex.”
The Northwest Down Syndrome Association said regardless of parents’ final decisions, they usually deserve more information than they’re getting now. What life is like for having a child with Down syndrome at the same time there’s a huge increase in testing but no huge increase in good information on what life can be like,” said Angela Jarvis-Holland.
The parents of the child did not want to comment because they were worried about the backlash they could get over such a controversial topic.
I’ve never had a child so I cannot comment based on a personal experience. I do believe that if I were to become pregnant I would have testing done – I’m a little advanced in years for child-bearing :) Yet I doubt I would sue if I ended up having a Down syndrome baby and a test didn’t reveal that information. Not every test nor every doctor is 100% accurate at all times.
Let’s just hope that this money is used to provide the best care possible for this child and not used in a frivolous manner.