Ohio's high court limits damages against physicians in wrongful birth cases

June 1, 2006

In a 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that parents can sue physicians for negligent medical advice or failed genetic testing resulting in the birth of a child with disabilities.

In a 4-3 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that parents can sue physicians for negligent medical advice or failed genetic testing resulting in the birth of a child with disabilities. However, parents can only recover for the costs of the pregnancy and birth-but not for the costs of raising the child they would have aborted or for noneconomic damages. This is reportedly the first ruling by the state's high court on wrongful birth lawsuits, according to American Medical News (4/18/2006) and Medical Liability Monitor (3/2006).

The ruling was made in a case filed by a couple against an obstetrics practice and hospital responsible for genetic testing and counseling. Because the mother-to-be discovered that she had a chromosomal condition that could cause severe birth defects, the couple sought counseling to help them decide whether to abort the fetus if it carried the defect. They were told that the fetus was female and developing normally.

Instead, the couple delivered a boy who carried the defect, which resulted in severe and permanent disabilities. The couple alleged improper testing by the physicians, which deprived them of the ability to make an informed decision on the pregnancy.