State Appellate Court Recognizes Wrongful Birth Lawsuit

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Iowa issued a written opinion in a medical malpractice lawsuit alleging that the defendant physician was negligent in the treatment of the plaintiff during her pregnancy. The lawsuit, which was the first of its kind to be recognized in Iowa, sought damages for the wrongful birth of the plaintiffs’ child, who was born with severe congenital defects.

Baby's FootThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs were expecting a baby boy. The defendant was the plaintiffs’ radiologist, who reviewed the ultrasound of the couple’s child. The ultrasound indicated that there were potential issues with the unborn child, including the fact that the child’s head was unusually small. According to the report, the child’s head was in the third-to-sixth percentile for circumference.

The defendant physician did not report these specific findings to the parents but instead reported that the child’s head was “within two standard deviations of normal” and that the circumference of the child’s head was “slightly” below normal. No further testing was ordered or performed.

A few months later, the plaintiff-wife gave birth to the child in an uneventful birth. However, after four months, the plaintiffs took their child to the doctor after noticing that he was behaving strangely, and the child was noted to have a small corpus callosum, which is a band of nerves connecting the two parts of the brain. As a result, the boy suffers from cerebral palsy, microcephaly, intellectual disability, cortical visual impairment, and seizure disorder. Doctors told the plaintiffs that it is unlikely that their son will ever speak or walk.

The plaintiffs filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, claiming that the defendant physician was negligent for failing to inform them of the results of the ultrasound. The plaintiffs claimed that, had they been informed of the risks involved, they would have terminated the pregnancy.

Up until this point, Iowa had not permitted wrongful birth lawsuits; however, after noting that medical care has evolved over the past several decades and that many other states have begun to allow wrongful birth cases, the court determined that this type of case should be permitted to proceed under the legal theory of medical malpractice.

New Mexico Wrongful Birth Lawsuits

As was the case in Iowa until recently, New Mexico courts have not yet determined whether plaintiffs are able to seek compensation based on the wrongful birth of a child due to negligent medical care. However, New Mexico does recognize wrongful conception cases, in which a doctor’s failure to warn a plaintiff that she may become pregnant after an attempted sterilization procedure can result in damages related to the cost of raising the wrongfully conceived child.

Are You in Need of an Attorney?

If you or a loved one has recently given birth to a child who was born with severe, life-changing birth defects, and you were not warned by your physician of the risks involved with your pregnancy, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While New Mexico courts have yet to rule on this specific issue, there is certainly precedent in other jurisdictions that can create a compelling case for compensation. To learn more about New Mexico medical malpractice law, and to discuss your case with a dedicated New Mexico personal injury attorney, call 505-889-FINE to schedule a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Student’s Case Against School Dismissed After Falling from School Zip Line, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 28, 2017.

Court Finds that Comparative Negligence Does Not Apply in Crashworthiness Cases, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 13, 2017.