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A rise in birth defects due to Zika leaves parents scrambling

On a Friday night in the ER, an overworked doctor listens to your symptoms; fatigue, skin rash and body aches. “Sounds like you have got the flu,” the doctor comments and quickly scribbles a signature on a prescription pad. You are instructed to go home, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Fast forward nine months and you once again find yourself in the ER, this time you are welcoming your first child. In all of the excitement, you count ten fingers and ten toes and are content to think your baby is perfect. However, the worried look on the doctor’s face suddenly changes everything, “Have you ever heard of microcephaly?” he asks gently.

How could this happen?

The reality is that trip to the emergency room before the pregnancy was not due to a cold. In fact, it was due to the Zika virus. Unfortunately, this situation often results in a typical misdiagnosis by doctors, as the Zika virus presents flu-like symptoms. A recent study released by the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report found a spike in Zika-related birth defects in the United States. Forty-nine percent of the babies born to a mother who had the Zika virus suffered microcephaly, a condition in which the brain and head are underdeveloped.

The doctors did not catch it

What the report showed is in many cases most of the mothers who had babies with birth defects linked to the Zika virus never got tested for the virus or were not tested at the right time. Mothers were essentially unaware they were carrying the disease. When doctors misdiagnose or fail to diagnose medical conditions the results are life-changing.

Medical malpractice stems from instances where an error in a doctor’s diagnosis leads to improper, delayed or no treatment whatsoever. In the most unfortunate of cases, the outcome of a doctor’s negligence can be deadly.