Yesenia Pacheco decided to take charge of her reproductive health by getting a Depo-Provera birth control injection at NeighborCare Health, a Seattle clinic. In September of 2011, instead of her customary injection, a clinic worker gave her a flu shot instead. By the time the clinic figured out their mistake at her next visit, she was already pregnant. Due to her religious views, she chose not to have an abortion. Now Pacheco has filed a lawsuit against the clinic for their negligence.
Small medical mistakes can have huge consequences
There’s an unusual complication in this case: Yesenia’s daughter, Sandra Pacheco, was born with a rare amd severe congenital defect called unilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria. Sandra’s abnormally folded brain will cause lifelong problems with motor control and speech. Sufferers of unilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria may also experience partial muscle paralysis in the face and throat, seizures, and difficulties chewing and swallowing. Scientists do not yet understand the exact cause of the condition, which occurs during embryonic growth.
Sandra’s condition means that she will need lifelong care, which will come with a hefty price tag. Pacheco’s attorneys have stated that Sandra’s birth was a case of wrongful life, “as a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s negligent acts and/or omissions to perform the medical care with due care.”
Can there be such thing as a “wrongful life” case?
This isn’t the first time a wrongful life lawsuit has been filed, although these cases are still so unusual that each new suit may make headlines worldwide. While wrongful death cases are common, wrongful life is an emerging field of law, as new advances in genetic screening, birth control, pregnancy surrogacy, in-vitro fertilization and pre-natal detection of congenital disorders complicate the question of what health providers should tell prospective parents. Wrongful life cases are different from birth injury cases, in which a pregnant woman does plan to have a baby but suffers from complications that harm her child during birth due to medical malpractice.
If you think that you have suffered from malpractice that led to wrongful life, it would be wise to consult a personal injury attorney, but be aware that this is an emerging field of law and there are few attorneys who have experience with wrongful life cases.