Case study: negligent wrongful birth

Tracy, 28 years old, Barnsley

JMW has helped a family secure £22,000 compensation after doctors wrongly advised them to have another child, resulting in the death of their 4th child.

Tracy already had 3 children when her 4th child (Samantha) was born with a number of genetic abnormalities including a hare lip and curvature of the spine. She died at 3 weeks old.

An abnormality on chromosome 15 was identified and Tracy and her husband received genetic counselling. They were told that the disorder was rare and that any future children had no more than a 1 in 200 chance of being affected. No mention was made at the time of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Over the next 11 years Tracy had 4 further children. All were tested for abnormalities on chromosome 15, which proved negative. Tracy’s 8th and final child (Colin) was a small baby but otherwise appeared quite healthy.

After about 6 months it became apparent that Colin was not thriving and on a couple of occasions he was admitted to hospital because he stopped breathing. Tests revealed that he was suffering from spinal muscular atrophy. He was discharged home, as no treatment could be offered, and died 2 weeks later aged 20 months.

Investigation

An investigation was undertaken and it became apparent that Sam had also died of SMA, but this information had never been passed on to her parents. It would appear that the pathologist involved at the time believed that SMA was directly related to the disorder on chromosome 15 rather than a separate condition.

The claim

Tracy and her husband claimed that had they been aware that Sam had died of SMA, and that any subsequent children had a 1 in 4 risk of also having the condition, they would either have had antenatal screening specifically for SMA and a possible termination.

Settlement

The hospital accepted liability (negligence) for the wrongful birth of Colin and the case was settled for £22,000.

Has your child suffered at birth due to issues that weren't diagnosed?

If so, contact JMW today either by our online enquiry form or by telephone on 0800 054 6512 and let us help you move forward with your claim.

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