PORTLAND, Ore. - The parents of a child who has Down syndrome have been awarded $2.9 million in a lawsuit they filed against Legacy Health.
Jurors found that the hospital was negligent after doctors told Ariel and Debora Levy their unborn baby did not have Down Syndrome.
The child was born with the condition and the parents said based on what they were told, they chose to continue the pregnancy. After their child was born, the Levys said the doctors were "negligent in their performance, analysis and reporting" of test results.
The Levy's child, a girl, is now four years old.
"It's been difficult for them," said David K. Miller, the Levy's lawyer. "There's been a lot of misinformation out there."
He said the case was not about possibly terminating the pregnancy, as some people have suggested. Rather, he said it was about holding Legacy accountable for not properly processing the test.
"These are parents who love this little girl very, very much," Miller said. "Their mission since the beggining was to provide for her and that's what this is all about."
Miller said he was confident the jury awareded the Levys the right amount - $2.9 million.
"While Legacy Health has great respect for the judicial process, we are disappointed in today`s verdict," Legacy spokesman Brian Terrett said in a prepared statment. "The legal team from Legacy Health will be reviewing the record and considering available options. Given this, we believe that further comment at this point would not be appropriate."
"I would hope that Legacy would embrace this jury verdict and let this case finally come to an end," Miller said.
The case brought up broader questions about genetic testing. Professor of biomedical ethics Patricia Backlar said she believes curiosity is a good thing and genetic testing is helpful.
"If they want to have prenatal testing, it means they have some worries or the clinician has some worries," she said. "You want to make sure you're prepared as well as you can be in case something is awry."
But she said, like anything, errors happen.
"Not doing harm is of great importance to most clinicians, because that's why they have gone into the profession," she said. "The reading of some of these tests can be complex."
And so are the moral questions surrounding this type of decision.
"We understand much more about early education for these children and how to help them in the world," Backlar said.
The Northwest Down Syndrome Association said regardless of parents' final decisions, they usually deserve more information than they're getting now.
"What life is like for having a child with Down syndrome at the same time there's a huge increase in testing but no huge increase in good information on what life can be like," said Angela Jarvis-Holland.
The parents of the child did not want to comment because they were worried about the backlash they could get over such a controversial topic.