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Failure to diagnose cystic fibrosis could be medical malpractice

Some Illinois families already know that cystic fibrosis is a condition that attacks the digestive system and lungs. It is an inherited condition that can be life-threatening. If some parents knew ahead of time that they were carriers of the disease, they might choose not to have children who could end up with the disorder. Under these circumstances, a failure to diagnose that the parents carry the gene for cystic fibrosis could constitute medical malpractice.

A judge on the East Coast recently ruled that a wrongful birth lawsuit filed by the parents of two children who have cystic fibrosis can continue. In his ruling, the judge remarked that doctors owe a reasonable standard of care to parents when it comes to the reproductive decisions of individuals and the procedures relating to them. The couple claims that for years they were not advised to have genetic testing done in order to determine if one or both of them carried the gene.

Their first child did not have the disorder, so the couple had another child. For nearly four years, the second child suffered from digestive and lung issues that were never connected to cystic fibrosis. During those years, the couple had a third child who also exhibited symptoms. The Rhode Island parents filed their lawsuit  because they claim they were denied the choice not to have the second and third children.

Many parents across the country -- including some here in Illinois -- are opting to have extensive genetic testing done prior to having children in order to spare any future children from being robbed of a normal life due to an inherited condition such as cystic fibrosis. A failure to diagnose a genetic condition could constitute medical malpractice. Any restitution received from a successfully litigated claim could help cover the current and future medical needs of the child.

Source:, "Judge allows suit in births of sons with cystic fibrosis", Katie Mulvaney, Aug. 5, 2016

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