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J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2014 Jul;27(11):1113-7. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2013.850664. Epub 2013 Oct 31.

The physician's breach of the duty to inform the parent of deformities and abnormalities in the foetus: "wrongful life" actions, a new frontier of medical responsibility.

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  • 1Department of Legal Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacology, Sapienza University of Rome , Rome , Italy and.


A recent decision of the Italian Highest Court for the first time legitimized wrongful life suits. The Court stated the following principles: (a) the contract between the mother and the doctor has also protective effects in favour of third parties (father, siblings and the disabled child) who have the right to be compensated; (b) the right to compensation is neither based on the right not to be born nor on the right to be born healthy, but rather it is based on the breach of duty of care which coincides with the child's disabled status; (c) siblings may suffer the reduced availability of their parents; (d) the doctor is held responsible for not providing full information to the mother about the foetal deformity. The Supreme Court once again emphasized the importance of information on the matter of very personal choices, such as termination of pregnancy in case of foetal malformations. In the present case, the gynaecologist breached the duty to inform, especially after the patient requested diagnostic tests designed to highlight any foetal malformations and informed the doctor of the possibility of an eventual subsequent termination of pregnancy if foetal malformations were found.


Malpractice claims; medical errors; wrongful birth; wrongful life

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