An Australian doctor’s failure to identify a pregnancy has led to a successful medical negligence claim after a 48 year old mother gave birth to a child with Down syndrome.
When the woman consulted her general practitioner in December 2005, she complained of tiredness, emotional outbursts and vaginal bleeding. The doctor assumed the woman was suffering from menopause as she was in her late 40s at the time.
The consultation ended when the doctor provided the woman with information about menopause and suggested she return to the practice if the gynaecological symptoms continued.
It wasn’t until four months later that the woman independently decided to take an at-home pregnancy test, which came back positive. The same GP then confirmed the pregnancy and referred the woman to a gynaecologist. At the same time, the woman was also offered counselling as she told the doctor she did not want to have a child.
The gynaecologist advised the woman that as she was 33 weeks pregnant, she was unable to terminate and had no option but to carry the child to term. When the child was born two months later, it was diagnosed with trisomy 21 – also known as Down syndrome.
Medical negligence lawyers were sought out by the woman in 2009, close to the child’s third birthday. The woman alleged the GP was negligent in both care and assessment. She told the Courts that if she had been made aware of the pregnancy at the time of the first consultation, she would have been able to get Down syndrome testing and would have chosen to terminate the pregnancy.
The woman was seeking damages in respect to the consequences of undergoing childbirth, the increased costs of raising a child with Down syndrome and her inability to return to full-time work due to her duty of care to her child.
While the doctor denied negligence, the Courts ruled that the GP had breached her duty of care to the woman due to a failure to obtain a thorough history, which should have led to further investigation and examination.
On April 4, the Courts found the woman was entitled to the damages claimed, although the amount the doctor is expected to pay has not yet been decided on.
If you believe your doctor has failed in their duty of care to you, you may be eligible to make a medical negligence claim. For more information, get in touch with the medical negligence solicitors at Gerard Malouf Partners today.