$12 Million Verdict for Failure to Obtain Informed Consent

We 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.

Read an article in the Connecticut Law Tribune about this verdict.