World’s First Fetal Surgery Completed in Barcelona!
The surgery did not take place recently, but was just publically announced. The fetus—who is now a healthy sixteen-month old girl—was suffering from bronchial atresia. This is an abnormality in the lungs where the bronchi tubes—which lead air from the trachea (throat) to the lungs)—was not properly connected with the central airways. Essentially, the breathing “tube” were crossed up. The surgery itself only lasted half an hour because of the fragility of the infant’s life being only 26-weeks old. Note that current viability is around 23-weeks old.
This disease affects one fetus in 10,000 and usually leads to the death of the fetus in nine out of ten cases! This surgery was an amazing breakthrough to save this child’s life and will pave the way for new operations.
The head of the fetal medicine department at the hospital which performed the surgery, Dr. Eduard Gratacos, said that “[i]t is an extremely delicate operation since it is carried out near the heart on tissues as thin as cigarette paper. But without this fetal therapy, the baby would not have survived.”
But what happened is something went wrong in this surgery? The doctor’s liability still doesn’t change. The doctor would be compared to a reasonably competent physician in the locality and if they followed the acceptable standard of care. Here, since the surgery itself is already incredibly risky, the sliding scale helps to protect the doctor from liability. But if the doctor or medical staff makes a glaring error, they will almost always be liable (i.e. if they leave a tool into the patient, work on the wrong lung, etc).
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