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Medical mishap leads to unplanned pregnancy and groundbreaking “wrongful life” suit

You may be familiar with the term “wrongful death” in connection with medical negligence that results in a patient’s otherwise preventable passing. The term “wrongful life,” however, may be a new concept for many.

It is common for couples to use birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancies. One form of birth control that has gained in popularity in recent years is the birth control shot. Women who do not desire to become pregnant can visit a clinic and receive quarterly injections as an effective form of contraception. This was the case for Yeseni Pacheco.

A life-altering mistake

In 2011, she visited her local clinic to receive her regularly scheduled Depo-Provera contraceptive shot. However, the attending nurse – who had been administering flu shots for the bulk of the day – failed to pay adequate attention to the instructions on Ms. Pacheco’s chart. The nurse gave Ms. Pacheco a flu shot instead – a mistake that Ms. Pacheco did not learn until two months later, when she was already pregnant.

Ms. Pacheco’s daughter was born with severe disabilities resulting from bilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria (PMG). This is a birth defect that has caused epilepsy and vision problems for the child, as well as impaired cognitive, speech and language abilities. She will require some degree of care and assistance for the rest of her life.

Wrongful pregnancy suit

The parents of the young girl have filed a lawsuit against the clinic for wrongful pregnancy. In addition to personal and emotional damages to the parents, the lawyers representing the case were also able to demonstrate damages for the long-term medical, educational and other expenses the child will need throughout her life. After a long legal battle, a federal judge recently awarded the couple $10 million in cumulative damages.

Medical workers have an obligation to care for each patient individually and in accordance with their specific needs. When medical staff make assumptions or overlook certain details about a patient, it can lead to mistakes. In such cases, patients have the right to seek justice and restitution under the law.

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