Friday, July 27, 2007

USF, Physician Liable For Botched Diagnosis

Tampa Tribune: By THOMAS W. KRAUSE
TAMPA - A University of South Florida doctor gave Daniel and Amara Estrada the green light to go ahead with a second pregnancy even though their first child has significant birth defects.

The doctor, however, did not give the Estradas all the facts.

A jury determined the Estradas deserve $23.5 million for lifetime care of their second child, born with the same genetic disorder as their first. The award includes payment for the pain and suffering caused by the doctor's misdiagnosis. Because USF is a government agency, the couple must petition the Legislature for the bulk of the money.

Had Boris Kousseff properly diagnosed Aiden Estrada with Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, the parents would have known there was a 25 percent chance their second child would have the disorder. A simple test could have found the disorder before Caleb Estrada was born.

Had the Estradas known, they would have terminated the second pregnancy, the couple said in their lawsuit....

Because USF is a government agency, the most it will have to pay would be $200,000 of the $21.1 million verdict. The Estradas must petition the Legislature to collect the remainder. The Estradas' lawyer said costs in the case have topped $200,000. Without the Legislature's help, the Estradas would see nothing.

"It is going to be a long road," Amara Estrada said. "I'm glad this part is over."...

State Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa, leads the committee that will determine whether the Estradas deserve more than the $200,000 cap.

Typically, Crist said, a group of legal experts will hear testimony and compare the jury award to similar cases. The legal experts will return to the legislative committee with a recommendation. The Legislature votes on about 100 such claims a year, Crist said.

This case might prove more difficult because of the abortion issue.

"In the 15 years I've been in the Legislature, I haven't seen that kind of issue," Crist said. "This has a potential moral question that could become a potential political issue. I don't know what the Legislature will do with that."

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