One common step toward welcoming a child into the world is carrier screening for parents. These genetic tests can help them understand the conditions their child might inherit from them and make informed decisions during the fertility process. Unfortunately, negligence in this screening process can leave them without the information they need or even put their child at risk of severe health conditions.
What screenings might a doctor recommend?
You may intend to use your own biological materials when pursuing fertility treatment. In that case, your doctor may recommend many screenings based on your family history. As Johns Hopkins notes, doctors may recommend screenings for:
- Cystic fibrosis — Carrier screening for this life-threatening disorder is a common way for parents to understand their chances of having a child with cystic fibrosis.
- Spinal muscular atrophy — Screening for this condition that leads to atrophy in skeletal muscles is especially important for patients with a family history of the condition.
- Fragile X syndrome — Women with a family history of these disorders or specific intellectual disabilities may want to perform this screening.
- Hemoglobinopathies — Screening for sickle cell disease and other blood disorders is common for all women. Parents of certain ethnicities may be at greater risk.
- Tay–Sachs disease — Parents of Eastern or Central European Jewish, French-Canadian or Cajun descent can be carriers of this neurodegenerative disorder.
How might negligence impact these critical tests?
Unfortunately, if fertility clinics do not uphold their duty to their patients, negligence during genetic testing can impact patients and their families for years to come. A doctor using their own sperm may not have performed these screenings, as one recent lawsuit alleged, and children may be carriers for these diseases or have serious health concerns as a result.
Mishandling, contaminating or mislabeling genetic materials, in other cases, might lead to inaccurate results or lead doctors to report the results of another patient’s test. This negligence can leave parents unaware of the risks their child may face.
While negligence during the screening process can leave families without the information they need, it is possible to hold healthcare providers responsible for their actions. Exploring your legal options can be the first step toward getting support for your family.