West Palm Beach Holoprosencephaly Lawyer
Sometimes, as a parent, difficult and frightening decisions must be made. When it comes to the health of their child, parents must be advised of every possible outcome and risk factor under an acceptable standard of care. When conditions like holoprosencephaly occur, a parent may have to make an unthinkable choice, and it may be compensable harm to a parent if they are underinformed.
Symptoms and Causes of Holoprosencephaly
Holoprosencephaly (HPE) is a condition where the prosencephalon, or the “forebrain” of the fetus, fails to develop correctly and does not divide into the usual left and right hemispheres. This can cause severe developmental and intellectual disabilities, as well as deformities of the facial structure that can lead to physical issues. In its mildest form, holoprosencephaly will only cause mild facial differences, such as a cleft palate, but the most severe variant, alobar holoprosencephaly, can lead to part of the brain failing to develop at all, as well as drastic deformities of the face (for example, lacking a nose, or only having one eye).
The cause of holoprosencephaly is largely unknown, though there is evidence that some causes come from a chromosomal mutation. Some posit that it may even be inherited, though this has not yet been confirmed. HPE is confirmed to occur more often in mothers with diabetes (gestational and otherwise) and those who experience more first-trimester bleeding, but otherwise, risk factors are almost all genetic.
Malpractice Causes of Action
HPE is a condition which occurs naturally, and cannot be caused by malpractice or mistake. However, parents can be materially injured under the law by a doctor’s failure to diagnose HPE, or to treat the symptoms of HPE that can be treated. Care for a disabled person, especially a severely disabled person, can be extremely expensive, and in some states, a parent may bring a suit for what is called wrongful birth, in part to cover the expenses of that care.
Florida does recognize a cause of action for wrongful birth, which states that a doctor or midwife may be held liable for failing to adequately inform parents of a disease or disability contracted by their child, because the parents then lacked the information to determine whether or not they might have legally terminated the pregnancy. These cases function essentially in the same manner as a standard medical malpractice suit. A plaintiff must prove the defendant medical professional was negligent – that is, that they breached the duty of care they owed to the plaintiff as a patient, and they must prove that the doctor’s negligence was the actual cause of the harm they suffered.
A doctor always owes a duty of care to his patients by law. So in a wrongful birth case, the parents would have to establish that the doctor breached that duty by not advising them of their child’s disability, and that since they did not know of the disability, they suffered the harm of an extremely disabled child being born.
A Good Holoprosencephaly Attorney Can Help
Having a disabled child can be difficult, and sometimes being forewarned can help you save money and prepare for the future. If you were not informed of your child’s HPE or other disability, you may be entitled to compensation. The firm of Gary Roberts & Associates has a long history of success in this area of law, and we keep medical experts on staff to help us plan the best lawsuits possible. We offer flexible appointment times and are able to accommodate those who prefer speaking Spanish. Contact our West Palm Beach office today for a free initial consultation.