If people with disabilities expect to experience some understanding and less ignorance in medical settings than when they’re out in public, they’re often very disappointed. Disabled people have been increasingly vocal about their negative – and sometimes dangerous – experiences with doctors.
Even some doctors, when provided anonymity in focus groups, have admitted to taking steps to avoid treating disabled patients.
False assumptions can be dangerous
Disabled pregnant women and their unborn babies can suffer harm when their doctors make false assumptions or are uninformed about the effect of taking – or stopping – particular medications while pregnant. Physicians who presume that disabled women can’t get pregnant or aren’t even sexually active may prescribe medications that could harm a fetus without even asking a woman if she could be pregnant. One doctor noted, “Physicians who provide care to moms who have seizure disorders…are commonly prescribing drugs that are not OK for the first trimester of pregnancy.”
Sometimes, doctors err on the other side and take disabled pregnant patients off some of their regular meds without doing some research about whether they’re actually dangerous to a fetus or if there are alternatives that would be safe for the fetus and allow the mother to continue to manage her medical condition during her pregnancy.
Understanding of the pregnancy and the disability are key
There’s no doubt that there’s been progress since the days when disabled women could legally be sterilized against their will. However, although pregnancy rates among disabled women are about the same as those for non-disabled women, they experience greater risks. Some are preventable if they have a doctor who understands both their disability and their pregnancy.
If you or your baby has suffered harm that you believe was caused by medical malpractice, it’s important to learn more about your rights and what options you have for seeking justice and compensation.