NJ Sickle Cell Anemia Attorneys
Representing Victims of Failure to Diagnose, Misdiagnosis, and Lack of Testing for Sickle Cell Diseases
Sickle cell anemia is a disease that affects the red blood cells, making spherical cells into crescent or sickle shapes. Since the red blood cells are misshapen, unbendable, and sticky, they do not flow through blood vessels easily and become stuck. As a result, they constrict the oxygen flow to the body and cause blockages when the cells disintegrate in the blood vessel. In other words, the sickle-shaped cells clump together or accumulate along the blood vessel walls and block the vessel, preventing the blood and oxygen from reaching the body’s organs. Physicians who do not take a careful medical history, fail to test for genetic indicators for sickle cell anemia and similar sickle cell diseases, or otherwise misdiagnose the condition after a child is born, may be vulnerable to a medical malpractice or wrongful birth claim for negligence. In these cases, New Jersey victims of malpractice with sickle cell anemia or another sickle cell diseases may have grounds to file a lawsuit.
By working with a wrongful birth and birth malpractice attorney to recover damages, you may recover the financial resources that your child needs for the best possible quality of life. In addition, you may be compensated for the emotional trauma that you suffered, and the results of being deprived of the opportunity to decide what was best for your family during your pregnancy. Our team of renowned pediatric and birth negligence lawyers have vast experience fighting for justice on behalf of victims throughout New Jersey. We understand that each case is unique and dedicate the time to learning about your case and building the best possible claim on your behalf. For us, it’s personal. If you would like a free consultation regarding a possible claim for sickle cell anemia malpractice, simply call (866)-708-8617 today.
Signs of Sickle Cell Anemia
With sickle cell anemia, the deformed blood cells die early and cause blood deficiencies, infection, stroke, chest pain, cough, fever, and hypoxia (low oxygen). The primary symptoms of extreme fatigue can cause misdiagnoses of lupus, an anti-inflammatory disorder, or thalassemia, a blood disorder that affects different genes.
When the red blood cells have reduced lifespans due to sickle cell anemia, they cause extreme fatigue in the disease-stricken individual. In addition, reduced numbers of red blood cells mean less oxygen to the body since red blood cells carry oxygen to the human system. Every major system needs oxygen to function optimally. When organs and tissue lose oxygen, they become weak, damaged, and cause pain.
Risk Factors that Increase the Chances of Having Sickle Cell Anemia
According to Sickle Cell Speaks, a health organization that studies the disease and its sufferers, nearly 100,000 Americans live with sickle cell anemia, most of whom have African descent. Others affected are of Latin or Central American, South Asian, Mediterranean, or Middle Eastern descent. Scientists theorize that sickle cell developed to combat malaria, a disease that exists where most affected populations reside or their ancestors lived.
How Sickle Cell Disease Happens
Sickle cell disease is a larger grouping of blood-related disorders, including HbSS, HbSC, HbAS, and HbSO. HbSS is sickle cell anemia, which occurs when a child genetically receives two sickle cells (SS). It is more severe than the other types, combinations of one sickle cell and another defective hemoglobin (blood protein) or anemia gene, one from each parent. Unlike other conditions, sickle cell comes from the genetics of both parents. Children of carriers can inherit the trait. In addition, a person can carry the trait without experiencing the disease when they inherit one sickle cell gene and one healthy gene, one from each parent.
Treatment Options for People Living with Sickle Cell Anemia
It is essential to know as soon as possible if a newborn has sickle cell, since babies with the disease suffer more infections and poor health. Doctors should prepare for the first six months of a baby’s life when the symptoms first appear in varying degrees of severity. Since each person experiences the disease differently, physicians should tailor treatment to each patient. Those with extreme cases may be eligible for bone marrow or stem cell transplants to replace unhealthy marrow with healthy marrow. However, the procedure has severe side effects that can end fatally. Other than the rare transplant, sickle cell anemia is incurable. A variety of management strategies and options are available to help those coping with sickle cell anemia, and researchers are continuing to investigate potential cures.
Sickle Cell Anemia Negligence with Testing and Diagnosis
Sickle cell disease is detectable via a blood test, generally at birth during routine screenings. However, genetic indicators may also appear in prenatal tests. As such, a doctor who fails to diagnose or misdiagnoses sickle cell anemia may cause a family hardship and saddle a young life with a medical condition that could have been diagnosed prenatally or immediately following birth.
Undetected Sickle Cell during Pregnancy
Given the early onset and devastating effects of sickle cell, obstetricians should know if a pregnant woman is susceptible to the condition by taking a complete medical history, including ethnicity, race, and family history. After a risk assessment, a doctor should test the pregnant patient and father for the genetic trait if they fit the profile of a likely high-risk patient. Hemoglobin electrophoresis is a blood test that finds the sickle cell trait. Other tests are available later in the pregnancy, such as Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) in the late first or early second trimester. The test finds genetic defects in placental tissue. Amniocentesis is another test for the genetic abnormality in the second trimester by amniotic fluid analysis.
Failure to Diagnose Sickle Cell Anemia after Birth
In addition to failure to inform mothers and parents about prenatal testing for sickle cell disease, if a doctor or another medical provider fails to diagnose or test for the condition in a child, even after knowing the parents’ medical history, they also may be subject to a medical malpractice claim. A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of sickle cell anemia may cause a child needless suffering and degeneration of vital organs. Moreover, qualifying for bone marrow or stem cell transplants requires the patient’s organs and tissue to be healthy. Otherwise, the transplant may be useless or endanger the patient’s life from the procedure. Since the disease is incurable, a marrow transfusion may be the only hope of saving a patient. Thus, a physician’s negligence could cost an infant or young child their life.
Know Your Rights if You Have been a Victim of Sickle Cell Anemia Malpractice in New Jersey
In New Jersey, a parent may sue a negligent medical provider for wrongful birth and recover the costs of birthing and raising a child with a disease like sickle cell, including the medical expenses of numerous doctor or hospital visits, medical monitoring devices, and medications. They may also receive compensation for their mental and emotion damages, like the suffering of rearing a child with severe disease and the pain experienced due to a sickle cell condition. In a wrongful birth case, the parents may have been uninformed about available prenatal tests, misdiagnosed or undiagnosed after genetic screening, or otherwise deprived of the knowledge of the financial and emotional toll such a devastating condition would take on their and their child’s lives.
Likewise, children and infants whose sickle cell anemia went undiagnosed, untreated, or misdiagnosed may hold negligent medical professionals accountable for not testing or recognizing the signs, misreading lab results, failing to obtain informed consent, and other medical errors resulting in injuries. This type of litigation is typically handled by their parents, who have the option to file a claim on their child’s behalf until the child’s eighteenth birthday in New Jersey. As for birth injuries, the statute of limitations in such cases is until the child reaches age thirteen.
Contact a Sickle Cell Disease Lawyer to Discuss Your Malpractice Claim in NJ
If your physician or another healthcare provider was negligent in either a prenatal or postnatal diagnosis of sickle cell anemia or another sickle cell disease, consider conferring with an experienced pediatric and birth malpractice attorney for further advice. You deserve to know your rights and responsibilities regarding your child’s condition and your options for employing the legal system to your family’s benefit.
Our seasoned New Jersey lawyers can explain what it takes, how long, and what you need to establish in a court of law before recovering damages. Having dealt with medical doctors, insurance companies, and defendants in a vast array of malpractice cases involving pregnant women, newborns, toddlers, and children, we can evaluate your case and assist with the entirety of the legal process to recover compensation. Receive a free legal consultation regarding your sickle cell malpractice case by contacting (866)-708-8617 today.
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