Imagine going in for a routine ultrasound only to discover a birth defect like spina bifida or a heart condition. Now imagine never knowing about such a condition – or even the possibility of any malformation – until a baby is born. Are doctors responsible for reasonably informing you of such conditions? And is failing to provide this diagnosis negligent?
Wrongful Birth in Texas
If you are not sure about these answers, you are not alone. Such issues can be morally or socially difficult to answer, but it is especially challenging to hammer out concrete laws that all healthcare providers and parents must follow in such cases. Though the legal fine print is still being developed (and some organizations want to scrap it entirely), there is a lot to consider regarding potential wrongful birth lawsuits in Texas.
Grounds for a Lawsuit
For all parents, an accurate birth defect diagnosis is critical in deciding whether or not they can physically and financially provide for their children. Therein lies the debate: when a doctor fails to properly inform these families of a potential problem, does it cause undue hardship? And what if a doctor’s personal opinion about a mother’s options keeps him or her from disclosing this information? It is certainly complicated. But for 28 states, it is grounds for a lawsuit.
Though it is harder to weigh in on the plaintiff’s personal motives for filing a wrongful birth claim, in most cases, a medical professional committed malpractice. For example, a person can already sue for an incorrect or delayed diagnosis. Would a correct diagnosis have improved the child’s quality of life or better prepared the parents to provide for the newborn? And would another professional in a similar situation have made an accurate diagnosis and recommended correct treatment options?
These issues have a lot in common with current malpractice laws, which are already grounds for a personal injury claim.
Resistance to Wrongful Birth in Texas
There are a few reasons why wrongful birth may lead to legal problems, though, and opponents to these suits have raised the following concerns:
- Negative precedence. Some fear that wrongful birth claims send the message that disabled children are a burden or that they do not have the same rights as other people.
- Liability problems. We have already mentioned the possibility that medical practitioners may hesitate to provide a diagnosis because of personal convictions. But would wrongful birth suits lead them to another extreme? To avoid liability, doctors may make inaccurate or biased recommendations about the challenges and health issues a family may face.
- Unjust suits. In many cases, healthcare specialists do nothing to contribute to or exacerbate a birth defect or related medical condition. Should these professionals still be held liable if a birth defect is not identified? As these laws are created and modified, a person’s actions or inaction will be carefully considered.
Keep in mind that wrongful birth does not affect intentional or negligent failure to treat or diagnose. Though there are plenty of concerns regarding this issue, these cases rely heavily on precedence and the laws that already govern malpractice and negligence claims.
Work With a Diligent Attorney in Austin
This issue intimately deals with one’s quality and right to life. However, Texas has not made a decision about whether or not a wrongful birth is grounds for a legitimate lawsuit. Thus, for families affected by this issue, working with an experienced and proactive attorney is critically important; as the debate continues to unfold, you need an individual who stays current on Texas law and knows precisely how to pursue your claim.
Planning for a healthy baby only to receive a birth disorder diagnosis in the delivery room is devastating. If this has happened to you, your family is likely wondering about legal options in Texas. Contact our team of Austin medical malpractice lawyers for more information.