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Ultrasounds Mislead; Parents Sue For $9 Million

September 2, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Obstetric Ultrasound
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Ana Mejia had seven ultrasounds during her pregnancy. During none of them did her obstetrician or the ultrasound technicians notice that only one leg of her baby had developed, and that her son’s arms ended above the elbows.

If someone had, Mejia said during court testimony this week, she would have had an abortion.

Instead, Bryan Santana, now almost 3, can’t chase around with other children his age. He can’t throw a ball. “He sees kids running and playing,” Mejia told a Palm Beach County Circuit Court jury. “He looks like he wants to do the same, but he just can’t.”

Mejia and her husband, Rodolfo Santana, are suing Palm Beach Gardens perinatologist Marie Morel, MD, and two ultrasound clinics for $9 million. That’s the amount a consultant hired by the parents’ lawyers said would be needed to take care of Bryan—to provide him with prostheses, wheelchairs, counseling, and other equipment and services throughout his life.

The parents are also asking for an unspecified amount of money to compensate them for their own pain and suffering. One of their attorneys, Robert Bergin, said during the trial’s opening statements:

Ana and her husband have the right to seek a claim for their mental anguish, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re here for an amount to fund Bryan’s life care plan.

Attorneys representing the defendants said their clients did nothing wrong. Sometimes, they said, ultrasounds just don’t provide a clear view.

The Palm Beach Post has provided gripping  accounts of the trial’s first couple of days, here and here. Mejia’s testimony is particularly wrenching. She said that she loves her son but that she believes he will undergo a life of suffering and hardship.

When, shortly after Bryan was born, doctors told her why they had taken him away from her abruptly after the delivery, she said:

I wanted to die. I couldn’t believe it was happening. My son. My son.

Arial Sofro, an attorney for the defendants, said, “Every doctor will tell you that a limited view on an ultrasound is pretty common.” She said Mejia was told that “doctors can’t guarantee results” and signed written warnings to the same effect.

In her opening statement, the attorney acknowledged the horror of Bryan’s disabilities but said, “He’s dearly loved by his family. They can’t imagine a life without him. They wouldn’t give him up for all the money in the world. So why are we here?”

Nobody has a simple answer for that one.

Related seminar: Advances in Fetal and Neonatal Imaging (all new)

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One Response to “Ultrasounds Mislead; Parents Sue For $9 Million”

  1. Radiology Daily»AlertArchive » GE Plans Suitcase-Size Mammography Unit on September 21st, 2011 at 10:01 am

    […] Earlier this month, we told you about the Florida couple who sued because ultrasounds failed to reveal the fact that their unborn […]