Claim for Wrongful Birth

25 March 2022

Our client, Mrs P, had a strong family history of cystic fibrosis. Therefore, when she married; and had made the decision with her husband to start a family, she (and her husband) quite understandably wanted to do all that they could, to avoid having a child, who would suffer the ongoing and debilitating effects of such a life-limiting condition.
Claim for Wrongful Birth

In order to achieve this aim, Mrs P and her husband underwent genetic counselling and testing conducted by two NHS Trusts. Whilst Mrs P and her husband, were subsequently found to be carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene, neither of them were sufferers of the condition itself. Following conception and further genetic testing, the NHS Trusts involved advised Mrs P (and her husband) that, whilst, like them, their unborn child, might be a carrier of the cystic fibrosis gene, they would not suffer from the physical effects of the condition. Reassured by these test results, Mrs P therefore continued with the pregnancy. The pregnancy itself was uneventful. However, when Mrs P’s child was born, he was unfortunately born in very poor condition, requiring life-saving bowel surgery shortly after birth. 

Following further clinical investigations, Mrs P’s child was diagnosed to be a cystic fibrosis sufferer; and his health problems that had required life-saving surgery, were in fact a direct result of that condition. This revelation that their child was a sufferer of cystic fibrosis came as devasting news to Mrs P and her husband, at what should have been a very special time in their lives.   This was particularly so because of the precautions that that had taken (or at least believed that that had taken) to avoid such a situation from arising. 

Mrs P and her husband subsequently made a formal complaint to both NHS Trusts, who denied that the situation had arisen due to any fault in the standard of care that they had provided. Mrs P and her husband were dissatisfied with the Trusts’ response to their formal complaint and instructed Shoosmiths to advise and assist them. 

How did Shoosmiths assist?

Once instructed, Shoosmiths were able to identify independent medical experts to evaluate whether or not, Mrs P (and her husband) had been provided with substandard care by the NHS Trusts during the genetic counselling and/or genetic testing process. The expert evidence that Shoosmiths obtained on Mrs P’s behalf identified a number of failings in the  care that had been provided by the NHS Trusts during the genetic counselling and testing process. Shoosmiths used this expert evidence to prepare and advance a clinical negligence claim on Mrs P’s behalf against both of the NHS Trusts. After being notified of the claim, both NHS Trusts continued to deny liability for the claim in full. However; and despite their continued denials of liability, both NHS Trusts agreed to discuss the claim with Shoosmiths at Mediation, which was conducted remotely, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mrs P’s claim subsequently settled at Mediation for a six figure sum. James Wright, experienced clinical negligence solicitor who assisted our client confirms that “Mrs P and her husband were both very pleased with the outcome of the Mediation; and plan to use the settlement monies obtained to assist in providing care, assistance, and equipment for their child who suffers from cystic fibrosis, in order to help them live as full, independent and happy a life as possible.”



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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