Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a hereditary disease with many terrible symptoms. For centuries, it was completely unpredictable whether an infant would be born with the condition, but through the advances of medical science, it is now possible for couples to be screened for risk factors even before the woman conceives and for the fetus to be tested in utero to see whether it has the disorder. It is even possible to test an embryo created in vitro before it is implanted. With so many means available to give parents alternatives to bearing a child who will suffer a painful, life-shortening disease, obstetricians or other medical professionals who fail to screen or perform prenatal testing may be sued for medical malpractice.
If you have a child with cystic fibrosis and you and your spouse were not advised of the risks or tested for the condition, you may well be able to sue for substantial compensation. Filing a lawsuit of this kind is not a vengeful action; it is a practical way of receiving enough money to provide all the care your child will need throughout its lifetime. Nagel Rice LLP, with offices in Roseland, New Jersey, and Manhattan, has an outstanding record of winning millions of dollars for clients who have sustained a wrongful birth. More than that, we have a well-deserved reputation for empathy and kind treatment.
What is cystic fibrosis and what are its symptoms?
Cystic fibrosis is a disease that affects the lungs and the digestive system. Patients with this disorder produce thick, sticky mucus and other secretions that clog the lungs and pancreas, resulting in multiple distressing symptoms, including:
- Persistent cough
- Wheezing and breathlessness
- Inflamed nasal tissue
- Repeated lung infections
- Repeated bouts of pancreatitis
- Severe constipation or intestinal blockage
- Poor weight gain and growth
- Rectal prolapse
- Sterility (in most male patients)
Sometimes the first sign of the disease is the abnormally high level of salt in the sweat, tasted by parents when they kiss their affected child. The average lifespan of a person with CF is from 37 to 50 years.
Risk Factors for Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that can only be passed on to offspring if they inherit a gene from each parent. Since individuals with only one CF gene do not suffer from the condition, they are known as carriers and may not be aware that they carry the potential for passing on the disease. This is why screening and testing are so important. If both parents are carriers, they have a one in four chance of having a child with CF with each pregnancy. If you know of a case of CF in your family history, you are more likely to carry the defective gene.
Although CF has historically occurred more frequently among members of the non-Hispanic white population, as diversity within families increases exponentially, it is recommended that all couples be screened for genetic risk factors for CF and other disorders before becoming pregnant or as early in the pregnancy as possible.
Wrongful Birth as a Type of Medical Malpractice
Though “wrongful birth” is an unfortunate term, it refers to a very real type of medical malpractice. If your doctor has neglected to make you aware of your potential risk of having a baby who will be seriously ill throughout its life, has failed to take appropriate measures to test you and the fetus (or embryo) for such an illness, misinterpreted test results, misreported them or failed to communicate them to you in time for you to terminate the pregnancy, you may have a viable legal claim against him or her and also against the healthcare facility in which you were treated. With so many types of screening and diagnostic testing available, a doctor who fails to inform patients and/or to administer prenatal tests is usually considered legally negligent.
Contact Nagel Rice for a free consultation with our experienced wrongful birth attorneys. We will let you know whether you have a winnable case, offer you legal and emotional support, and charge you no attorneys’ fees until we recover the significant compensation you deserve.
Prenatal Screening and Testing for Cystic Fibrosis
Both parents-to-be should be screened for the CF gene through DNA testing performed on a sample of blood, saliva, or tissue from the inside of the cheek. If one partner tests positive, there is only a very slight chance that you will have a baby with the disorder. If both partners test positive, however, there is cause for concern, since you now have a 25 percent chance of bearing a child with CF.
If you are in the latter category of elevated risk, prenatal testing on the fetus can be done at as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. Prenatal diagnostic tests include:
- Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
Prenatal screening and testing does not determine whether you will continue with the pregnancy or choose to terminate it. This is a personal decision that only the parents can make. Nonetheless, you are entitled to be given the options modern medicine has to offer. Whether you choose to abort a fetus with CF or prepare for the ongoing care it will require should be entirely up to you. A medical professional or facility that doesn’t provide you with this choice is violating its “duty of care.”
Nagel Rice Will Help You Receive the Compensation You Deserve
Once you take in all the ramifications of having a child with cystic fibrosis, you are likely to be overwhelmed and even frightened. Beyond the necessary medical consultations, you should schedule a free meeting with one or our highly skilled wrongful birth attorneys who will assist you in filing a lawsuit that will likely be your salvation. We will use our well-proven strategies to win you compensation for, among other costs:
- Medical and therapeutic treatments
- Psychological therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost income, present and future, while your care for your child
You can trust our medical malpractice firm to fight long and hard to make sure you receive damages for all the hardship imposed on you and your family by medical negligence. Contact us or a consultation regarding your case.