N.H. high court throws out wrongful birth verdict

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 22, 2006

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The New Hampshire Supreme Court in April reversed a $2.3 million jury verdict in a wrongful birth case against Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, finding that the hospital adequately informed a couple of the increased risk that their son would have serious birth defects.

The ruling is a positive one for doctors, said New Hampshire Medical Society Executive Vice President Palmer P. Jones. "The court realized that physicians are practicing in a very complicated world with rapidly developing technology, and it is clearly more difficult for them to be able to guarantee outcomes in this way," Jones said. The medical society did not take a position in the lawsuit.

Sherry and Brad Hall sued Dartmouth Hitchcock in 2003, alleging that they would have terminated their pregnancy if the medical center's genetic counseling team had told them about their son's diagnosis with a rare chromosomal disorder.

The case marked only the second time a wrongful birth claim has reached the state's high court since a 1986 decision established the claim. In the April ruling, Justice Linda S. Dalianis noted that the standard does "not require a physician to identify and disclose every chance, no matter how remote, of the occurrence of every possible birth 'defect' no matter how insignificant."

Note: This item originally appeared at

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