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DOCTOR CLEARED FOR FAILING TO DETECT DOWN SYNDROME

A full Bench of the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) has refused to hold a gynaecologist liable for not detecting Down syndrome during the pregnancy of a patient.


According to a Rapport report, parents Nadia Carelse and Jason Broderick sued Dr Pieter Engelbrecht for his alleged negligence. Carelse argued that she would have aborted her pregnancy if she had been warned about the foetus’ genetic defect.


Judge Natvarlal Ranchod held on behalf of the full Bench that not even the world’s best gynaecologist would have been able to detect the defect. Experts testified that the tests widely used by gynaecologists to confirm the absence of Down syndrome are 99.98% accurate in the first trimester and a 99.96% accurate in the second trimester.


Carelse was one of only four in 10 000 who underwent the screening tests, and the defect was not detected. The court thus confirmed an earlier judgment by a single judge dismissing the damages claim.

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