Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney
Michael L. Weiss
Robert E. Paarz
Sickle Cell Disease
Serving New Jersey
Sickle cell disease involves a group of inherited blood disorders in which red blood cells assume an abnormal, rigid sickle shape. This can result in interruption of blood flow, and prevent oxygen from reaching tissue and organs. When this occurs, painful events can occur with an associated risk of muscle, bone and organ damage. In a common form of sickle cell disease known as sickle cell anemia, there is a shortage of red blood cells circulating through the body (anemia), because sickle cells die prematurely. Unfortunately, sickle cell disease is considered a lifelong disease in which there is no universal cure.
A simple blood test either before conception or during pregnancy can determine whether either parent carries a sickle cell trait. People with sickle cell trait don't have sickle cell disease or exhibit any signs of the disorder, but they can pass the gene for the disease to their children. When both parents have the sickle cell trait, there's a 25% chance that a child will have sickle cell disease.
Standards of Care for prenatal diagnosis of Sickle cell disease
A careful history should be taken from all pregnant women seeking to identify risk factors for genetic disorders. Information should include the health status and presence of genetic disorders or carrier status of parents and relatives, as well as inquiry into ethic, religious and racial background. If either parent is at increased risk for sickle cell trait based on their genetic background, a blood test should be offered testing for the presence of sickle cell trait. According to the National Institute of Health, sickle cell disease is most common in people whose families come from Africa, South or Central America (especially Panama), Caribbean islands, Mediterranean countries (such as Turkey, Greece, and Italy), India, and Saudi Arabia. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Sca/SCA_WhoIsAtRisk.html. Therefore, a blood test for sickle cell trait should be offered to all African Americans and Hispanics, along with individuals of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern or Indian descent.
Your rights in the event of a Prenatal Misdiagnosis (“Wrongful Birth”)
In order to recover, parents must prove that a medical provider’s negligence kept them from learning that there was a heightened risk that the fetus had a significant birth defect or genetic condition. They must also establish that they would likely have ended the pregnancy had they been aware of the problem. In doing so, they are not in any way calling into question their love and devotion to their child – that relationship has already been established and will continue forever. Rather, they are merely acknowledging that if they had known of the defect or disease during the pregnancy, they would most likely have chosen not to undertake the financial and emotional hardships involved in parenting a severely disabled child with a lifelong disability. Because the child would probably not have been born if the medical provider was not negligent, these claims are often referred to as “wrongful birth” claims.
The New Jersey Supreme Court has held that if a wrongful birth claim is established, the negligent medical provider must provide the compensation for the unique medical expenses and other extraordinary expenses related to the child’s condition for the child’s lifetime. In addition, compensation is to be provided for the emotional injury and anguish suffered by the parents in being compelled to take on the lifetime tasks and burdens of parenting a disabled child.
How We Can Help
Sickle cell disease can vary greatly in severity, with symptoms ranging from very mild to severe and debilitating. Children with sickle cell disease require heightened attention from their parents and medical providers so that serious illness can be prevented or lessened.Medical monitoring is required over the course of such children’s lifetime, and in patient hospitalizations are typically required on an annual basis.
The expenses involved in making sure a child with sickle cell disease gets the best medical care possible over the course of that child’s lifetime can be enormous. There may be a significant difference in the treatment and services that private medical insurance, a public school system, or such programs as Medicaid will cover, and the most desirable state of the art treatment. If your child has sickle cell disease, and you did not learn of this diagnosis in time to exercise a choice as to whether to continue the pregnancy, you may be entitled to compensation. Proceeding with a claim may be the only way to ensure your child has the financial resources to access the best available care.
New Jersey medical malpractice lawyer Michael L. Weiss, Esq. obtained a jury verdict of $ 2,450,000.00 in May, 2008 on behalf of a child with what is considered to be a milder form of sickle cell disease. If you would like to discuss the possibility of pursuing a claim, please contact Weiss & Paarz, P.C., today.
Resources to find out more
More information about sickle cell disease can be found from any of the below websites:
National Institute of Health: