Undiagnosed Muscular Dystrophy and Negligence
Seasoned New Jersey Muscular Dystrophy Malpractice Attorneys Assisting Victims of Negligent Diagnosis and Failure to Conduct Genetic Screening
Certain genetic disorders can leave an individual with a temporary illness, permanent defects, or lifelong treatment, among other problems. Muscular dystrophy is one such genetic disorder that leaves the sufferer with a condition that only worsens with time and typically shortens the lifespan of its victims. Depending on the kind of muscular dystrophy, a person diagnosed with this condition may be able to undergo treatment that helps with symptoms and even prolongs life. However, early detection of the disease improves the odds of more effective treatment and longer life with higher quality. Genetic screening for the condition that occurs during pregnancy can help parents prepare for, and proactively treat, the disease afflicting their children. On the other hand, failure to screen for or accurately diagnose the condition severely disadvantages a child and their parents.
Beyond the devastating physical, psychological, financial, and personal effects for the child and their family, physicians and other medical professionals have a duty of care to provide information, guidance, testing, accurate diagnosis, and education about treatment options to their patients, in addition to referrals to appropriate specialists if and when necessary. When these healthcare professionals fail to inform pregnant women about genetic screening options for birth defects and congenital conditions that may affect their decisions moving forward, and the life they plan to bring into the world, this may provide grounds for a wrongful birth lawsuit. Equally detrimental, failure to diagnose muscular dystrophy after a child is born may delay treatment to combat symptoms, alleviate some of the child’s suffering, and provide more time for them to spend with the loved ones they are forced to leave all too soon. Such failures cannot and should not go unaccounted for, as victims and their families may file a claim to recover compensation for past financial and non-economic losses, and the costs of the child’s medical and other needs.
Our team of experienced New Jersey lawyers fight for victims of wrongful birth, pediatric malpractice, and birth injuries throughout New Jersey. With the vast scope of our knowledge in this area of law, we consult on these cases across the country. Our dedication and meticulousness when analyzing all of the facts and circumstances of a case serves as a major advantage when preparing and proving our clients’ medical negligence claims. Call our office in Newark, New Jersey at (866)-708-8617 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation with an attorney today.
Muscular Dystrophy: What is it?
Muscular dystrophy is a debilitating, degenerative disease that leads to loss of muscle mass and use. Those with the condition have deteriorating muscle strength and may also suffer from heart problems and cognitive decline. Children with muscular dystrophy generally have weak muscles that do not respond to electrical signals from the brain to the muscles. Their symptoms and genetic cause determine the type of muscular dystrophy they have, among the approximately 30 different types of the disease. For example, certain muscular dystrophies are inherited from the mother, while others may be inherited from either parent. If your child has the condition, they most likely inherited mutated genes that cause a particular type among this set of disorders affecting the muscles and possibly other organs and systems.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
One kind of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, occurs when a mother carries a defective gene that a fetus inherits. About half of male babies inheriting the gene from their mothers have muscular dystrophy. When male offspring inherit the specific mutated gene from their mothers, they are typically symptomatic of muscular dystrophy. Females who inherit the defective gene from their mothers are generally carriers and may be asymptomatic or suffer only mild symptoms.
How do Doctors Detect Muscular Dystrophy?
To diagnose muscular dystrophy, doctors use various tests and scans. They order tests based on their estimation of a patient’s condition or suspected condition. Blood and saliva tests and muscle biopsy may detect muscle weakness, damage, or defective genes outside of the womb. Other technologies include scans, such as MRI, electromyography (EMG), electrocardiogram (ECG), and ultrasound. These can detect heart and muscle defects. However, genetic screening is a far more accurate determinant of muscular dystrophy.
Prenatal Genetic Testing for Muscular Dystrophy
DNA testing during pregnancy can provide a wealth of information to physicians and expectant parents, offering a unique lens into the condition of the fetus and aspects of their genetic makeup that may affect them long-term. An obstetrician may order genetic testing to detect the presence of genes that have been identified as the cause of muscular dystrophy, or correlated with its manifestation in offspring. Since prenatal genetic testing can find the genetic mutation responsible for muscular dystrophy, having the education and information from one’s doctor is crucial to make informed decisions for oneself and one’s family during pregnancy.
Two standard genetic tests include chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis. CVS is a method to retrieve placental tissue for lab analysis and is typically done 11 weeks into the pregnancy. Amniocentesis occurs later, at about 15 weeks, to collect amniotic fluid through a needle inserted into the pregnant patient’s belly. Genetic testing is best for detecting the disease, but also for identifying carriers of the disease. Thus, a parent and/or a fetus may be a carrier of muscular dystrophy, which means they can pass the condition on to their offspring.
Doctors typically counsel parents with a family history of the disease to undergo prenatal genetic counseling and testing for muscular dystrophy genetic mutations. Genetic counselors may also advise patients of the benefits and drawbacks of genetic testing, such as a small risk of miscarriage, and the reasons for proceeding with some or many different genetic tests.
Failure to Inform or Conduct Genetic Screening during Pregnancy, Failure to Diagnose Muscular Dystrophy, & Misdiagnosis
Doctors who do not offer their patients genetic testing or fail to diagnose muscular dystrophy after completing genetic tests may deprive patients of the opportunity to make the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their babies. A pregnant woman faced with a test result indicating that her child has a genetic mutation causing muscular dystrophy may choose to terminate her pregnancy. Alternatively, she may need to prepare herself and her family for the possibility of raising a child with this life-shortening disease. Many sufferers of muscular dystrophy tragically die young, in their teens, twenties, or thirties. As such, a negligent doctor who removes a patient’s options and the vital time they need to make life-altering choices may be held liable through a medical malpractice and wrongful birth lawsuit.
A wrongful birth lawsuit by the parents of a child born with muscular dystrophy may claim negligence for misdiagnosing or failing to give competent genetic counseling about their child’s likelihood of developing the debilitating disease. The parents who are unaware of their child’s condition and congenital disabilities are ultimately faced with the prospect of how to afford long-term expensive medical treatment. This only scratches the surface of the other costs of negligent medical care regarding muscular dystrophy, including the difficulties the child and his or her family will face along the way.
Seeking Compensation for Medical Errors with Muscular Dystrophy
Those seeking compensation for negligent genetic screening, misdiagnosis, or other malpractice with muscular dystrophy may recover damages from the liable medical professionals and facilities. Doctors are among the potential defendants in wrongful birth and medical negligence claims. They are often subject to liability for failing to inform their patient of risks, complications, and medical needs due to their negligent diagnosis or defective genetic counseling and testing. A successful wrongful birth litigant may recover financial expenses past and anticipated to care for a child with muscular dystrophy, including all of the medical costs of raising a child with a congenital disease.
Beyond immediate medical needs and those in the future, victims may seek all costs attributed to negligence with this congenital disability, such as additional care and accommodations for the child’s home life that may be necessary. Generally, damages for medical malpractice and wrongful birth include damages for past, present, and future medical costs of monitoring, treatment, and care for a child with muscular dystrophy. In addition, parents may claim economic losses, such as lost wages or salary, in caring for a child with the condition.
Contact Knowledgeable NJ Muscular Dystrophy Lawyers for Help with Your Child’s Case
Discovering your child has muscular dystrophy is no doubt devastating. You may not think about filing a wrongful birth or pediatric malpractice lawsuit in distress, but you should be aware of your options. It can be a source of extreme relief to know that you can afford your child’s lifetime needs and improve their quality of life as much as possible. Our exceptional team of lawyers can assure you that they can help you obtain financial support from those that deprived you and your family of choice and inflicted unnecessary suffering. Knowing what you can do legally to recover your damages is crucial to your peace of mind, we encourage you to learn more by speaking with a knowledgeable wrongful birth and malpractice attorney by calling (866)-708-8617 or contacting us online for a no obligation, no cost consultation.