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Couples sue doctors for failing to diagnose Down's Syndrome

Posted Jul 20 2010 4:33pm
Two couples in Victoria are suing their doctors for failing to diagnose Down's Syndrome antenatally. They argue that they are suffering 'psychiatric injury' and would have liked to have had the opportunity to terminate their pregnancies had they known about the diagnosis.

This is tricky. At the moment, we live in a time of unprecedented access to foetuses through technology. We are able to 'see' foetuses as early as a few weeks into a pregnancy, doctors can perform surgery on them and there are a slew of prenatal tests that can tell women if their foetuses have chronic ilnesses. Many women who participate in a medical model assume that doctors and technology are fail safe options when it comes to monitoring a pregnancy. But what happens when biomedicine gets it wrong? Or in this case a doctor may have failed to pick up Down's Syndrome? Is it fair that a couple can sue the doctor? Technology has become so sophisticated that we often forget that it is a person that actually has to diagnose and analyse tests results. Who's at fault here? The doctor for allegedly missing the diagnosis or the couples for getting pregnant 'alter in life' when the risk of having a child with Down's increases? What do you think?
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