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Medical Verdicts

Silver-Russell dwarfism follows undetected pregnancy

September 2004 · Vol. 16, No. 9
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<court>New York County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

A 44-year-old woman with a deformed uterus (due to diethylstilbestrol exposure in utero) presented to a medical center for hormone replacement therapy. At that time she was told pregnancy was impossible, and that she did not need contraceptives.

During a scheduled exam, symptoms typical of pregnancy were noted, but attributed to menopause. The nurse practitioner conducting the pelvic exam did not palpate the woman’s enlarged uterus.

Approximately a month and a half later, a computed tomography scan was performed to rule out an abdominal tumor. At that time it was discovered that the patient was 6 and a half months pregnant.

The woman delivered a baby girl with Silver-Russell dwarfism, which will require a multiple surgeries, hormone treatments, and physical therapy.

The patient claimed the defendants were negligent in failing to diagnose her pregnancy in a timely manner, eliminating her option to terminate the pregnancy if desired. Further, she maintained that the child’s condition stemmed from prenatal exposure to hormone replacement therapy, computed tomography, and prescription drugs.

The defendants denied the patients claims.

  • The case settled for $1.7 million.

The cases in this column are selected by the editors of OBG Management from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, of Nashville, Tenn. ( 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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