Fetal Limb Defects Not Detected byPrenatal Ultrasound Scanning : The Limitation of Prenatal Ultrasound Scanning
The plaintiff undertook her prenatal care at the defendant doctor A’s and B’s clinics. Totally 6 times of prenatal ultrasound scanning were performed by defendant A before 20th week of gestation, and another 8 scanning were done between the period of 22nd week of gestation and delivery by y defendant B. The plaintiff states that both defendants told her that the fetus was normal after each scanning and consequently did not advise her to undertake high level ultrasound, yet the newborn delivered was diagnosed to be a victim of totally absence of left arm, syndactyly of left toes, microtia of left ear, atrial septal defect, atresia of ductus arteriosus, and other multiple anomalies. The plaintiff claimed for damages of the wrongful birth. However, the defendants disputed that they were not obligated to detect all the fetal anomalies, moreover not all fetal anomalies could be detected prenatally by ultrasound because of maternal obesity or poor fetal position and gesture that hindered the ultrasound scanning. The District Court found for the defendant, and the plaintiff appealed. The High Court dismissed the appeal based on the reason that since the defendants had recorded “limbs not clearly recognized” on medical charts and the sensitivity of detecting fetal limb anomalies by ultrasound prenatally was 25% by a medical literature, though the fetal limb defects were not detected, yet the defendants could not be found negligent. This review by two authors elaborated several disputes regarding this case, such as the probative value of medical literature and expert testimony, and the obligation of prenatal ultrasound scanner under medical contract in this case.