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Legal: Claim of failure to follow up on abnormal U/S finding

A 17-year-old New Jersey woman was 18 weeks' pregnant when an U/S failed to show a fetal stomach.

In 2001 a 17-year-old New Jersey woman was 18 weeks' pregnant when an ultrasound was performed that failed to show a fetal stomach. Although a follow-up scan was scheduled 2 weeks later, the patient failed to show for that appointment. A letter was sent to her requesting that she reschedule. The patient returned about 2 months later, at 27 weeks' gestation, and an amniocentesis was performed, which revealed a fetus with XYY chromosome abnormality. The child was born about 1.5 months later and had various physical abnormalities and low cognitive functioning.

The patient sued the medical center involved with her care and claimed the personnel there should have followed up with her to reschedule the follow-up scan earlier, when termination of the pregnancy was still possible.

The hospital claimed the patient was at fault for not keeping the initial follow-up appointment and that she also missed a prenatal appointment a few days after that. This case was settled, however, for $2.5 million.