A Seattle woman filed a lawsuit last week alleging that a health clinic mistakenly gave her a flu shot instead of a birth control injection, after which she got pregnant.
Yesenia Pacheco went to a Neighborcare clinic in September for a routine shot of Depo-Provera, a hormonal form of birth control that she was scheduled to receive every three months, her attorney, Mike Maxwell, told The Huffington Post.
When she returned three months later for her next shot, clinic workers gave her a pregnancy test — a routine precaution to make sure they aren’t giving the drug to an already pregnant woman.
The test came back positive.
Maxwell says a clinic doctor informed Pacheco that in September, she had received a flu shot, not a Depo shot. The doctor allegedly said she was unsure how the “miscommunication” happened. Billing records also state that Pacheco received a flu shot — but no Depo shot — in September, Maxwell said.
Pacheco, who already had two children, told KIRO-TV that getting an abortion was against her personal beliefs. She’s now suing the federal government — since the clinic is federally funded — for an unspecified amount of money to cover the cost of caring for her daughter, now 3 years old, who suffers from a brain malformation called unilateral perisylvian polymicrogyria. The condition affects the girl’s speech and motor skills, and requires her to take medication twice a day to prevent seizures.
Watch Pacheco's interview with KIRO-TV:
Maxwell told HuffPost the girl still has seizures around twice a month, which typically require a trip to the emergency room.
“We’re not saying she doesn’t love her baby,” he said of Pacheco. “But the child needs additional services that the family is ill-equipped to handle.”
The lawsuit has been getting media attention for stating the girl was born into a “wrongful life,” but Maxwell says the phrase doesn’t really convey the spirit of the lawsuit.
“The idea is that this young family already had two children,” he said. “They are migrants to the United States. … They were [already] having difficulty just keeping food on the table for their two young children.”
Pacheco, he said, was attempting to act responsibly by using birth control, and the clinic failed her by not administering the Depo shot when it said it would.
“If she knew they were not going to fulfill their promise, she could have done something else for birth control,” he said.
Neighborcare Chief Development Officer Joseph Sparacio was unable to comment on the specifics of the case, but told The Huffington Post that Neighborcare has “great empathy” for Pacheco’s family.
“As soon as it was recognized that Ms. Pacheco had not received the scheduled Depo-Provera, we were open and forthright with Ms. Pacheco,” he said in an email. “Neighborcare Health takes patient safety very seriously, and as any health care provider should we are diligent about learning from any adverse incident like this, in an effort to make care as safe as we possibly can.”
Contact the author of this article at Hilary.Hanson@huffingtonpost.com