Medical Verdicts

Failure to test for HIV results in infant transmission


<court>Undisclosed County (Mass) District Court</court>

A woman began prenatal care at a clinic and requested a test for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) due to a history of swollen glands and prior sexually transmitted diseases. Because she was not told otherwise, she believed she had tested negative for the disease.

A short while later, the woman began treatment at another prenatal care center. During her initial evaluation at the clinic, the woman was examined for her swollen glands. She told the health-care professional that she had tested negative for HIV. However, no HIV test results were in her records. Despite this finding, no HIV test was conducted. She delivered a seemingly healthy baby in June 1995 and was allowed to freely breastfeed the infant.

In late 1995, both mother and child were diagnosed with HIV. The infant was treated with antiretroviral medications, but was hospitalized several times for complications stemming from the medication. The infant’s viral load has varied over his lifetime.

In suing, the mother claimed that the second health-care facility should have followed up care of her swollen glands with an HIV test. If a timely diagnosis had been made, the plaintiff argued, she would not have breastfed her child.

  • The case settled for $3 million.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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