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$12 Million Verdict for Failure to Obtain Informed Consent

Joram Hirsch represented a couple who were looking  forward to having their first child. When our client was in her 18th  week of pregnancy, she went to her doctor’s office for a routine  prenatal visit. It is the standard of care that at this stage of a  woman’s pregnancy her health care provider should offer her an  Alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) test.

The Alpha-Fetoprotein test is a test  which may detect birth defects. Most women elect to have the test  because it enables them to consider ending the pregnancy if their child  has severe birth defects; or, in order to better prepare for the child  birth process. Some women elect not to have the test. The health care  provider should get the patient’s informed consent to have or not have  the test. Informed consent is a duty imposed by law on health care  providers that requires them to inform a patient of the risks and  benefits of a medical test or procedure so that the patient can make an  informed decision about whether or not to have the test or procedure.

At  the critical office visit our client was seen by a midwife. The midwife  did not inform our client about the AFP test and did not offer her the  test. The day after the office visit a nurse from the doctor’s office  called our client and offered her the AFP test. However, the nurse did  not properly inform our client about the risks and benefits of the test.  Our client declined to have the AFP test.

Our client gave birth  to a baby with birth defects. We brought suit against the doctor’s  office claiming that the midwife had failed to properly inform our  client about the risks and benefits of the AFP test and that our  client’s decision not to have the AFP test was therefore not an informed  decision.

The jury returned a verdict in favor of our clients, the mother and father, in the amount of $12,000,000.

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