If a doctor is unable to make a diagnosis with a visual exam, he or she may need to collect a blood, urine, stool, or tissue sample to send to a lab for analysis. However, if the lab provides the doctor with inaccurate information, the doctor cannot provide his or her patient with appropriate medical care. The patient will either receive the wrong kind of treatment, or won’t receive any treatment at all. Unfortunately, lab errors happen at thousands of sites around the United States on a daily basis, including in clinical laboratories across Maryland.
If a clinical laboratory lost or made a mistake on your bloodwork or other medical tests, you should know that you may be entitled to significant compensation for current and future medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering resulting from the error. Call the experienced clinical malpractice attorneys of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 to set up a free and completely confidential legal consultation. Even if you aren’t quite sure whether you have a case, please do not hesitate to contact us for more information about how we may be able to help your family recover compensation.
Did a Maryland Laboratory Make a Mistake on Your Lab Test?
Most Maryland laboratories are equipped to provide patients with a wide array of diagnostic tests and screenings, including but not limited to lab tests for:
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- Hepatitis A
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- West Nile Virus
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Lyme disease
- Microbiology Services
- Blood cultures
- Breast cultures
- Dental cultures
- Eye cultures
- Intestinal parasites
- Semen cultures
- Sinus cultures
- Stool collection
- Wounds and abscesses
- Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi)
- Pulmonary (Lung) Disease
- Mycoplasma infections
- STDs/Gynecology and Urology
- CMV (Cytomegalovirus)
- EBV (Epstein-Barr Virus)
- Fungal infections
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
- HSV-1/HSV-2 (Herpes Simplex Virus)
- Molluscum contagiosum
- Staph infections (Staphylococcus aureus)
- Trichomonas vaginalis
- Varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox, shingles)
- Yeast infections
- Colorado Tick Fever Virus (CTFV)
- Dengue fever
- Norovirus (gastroenteritis)
- Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
How Negligence and Human Error Cause Misdiagnosis of Diseases
No matter how well-designed and accurate a medical test may be, results can always be compromised by careless human errors. Even tests which are guaranteed to be virtually 100% accurate are vulnerable, because there is still a possibility that accurate test results could be misinterpreted or mixed up with another patient’s results.
When a lab technician or other lab worker makes an avoidable mistake which causes harm or death to a patient, he or she may be liable for providing compensation to the injury victim, or, in the case of wrongful death, to the decedent’s surviving family members. In order to show that a lab worker is liable, four basic elements must be proven:
The “duty of care,” which is created by the formal patient-caregiver relationship.
A breach, or violation, of that duty of care. Lab technicians have a duty to take reasonable precautions against doing anything that could foreseeably result in death or injury, so if a technician somehow deviates from that standard – for instance, by testing the wrong patient’s sample – the deviation might constitute a breach of the duty of care, depending on the exact details of the situation.
“Causation,” which means the lab technician’s actions (or lack thereof) caused the accident or mix-up that occurred. “Actual cause” is the immediate cause of an accident (e.g. filing a sample under the wrong patient’s name), while “proximate cause” is the root cause, or legal cause (e.g. distraction or inattention while organizing samples).
“Damages,” which means that the patient suffered actual harm as a result of the lab technician’s actions. Damages might be financial (e.g. the cost of getting surgery), physical (e.g. losing a limb, organ, or body function), or emotional (e.g. the psychological devastation caused by a missed cancer diagnosis). If a lab technician makes a mistake, but no harm is actually done to the patient, the patient may not have a case even though the lab technician failed to perform their duties correctly.
There are a number of ways for lab errors to occur, including but not limited to the following examples:
- Losing or misplacing a sample or patient file.
- Sending a lab a sample which is missing information.
- Sending a lab a sample which has information about the wrong patient.
- Placing samples inside the wrong types of containers, which can spill or admit contaminants.
- Shipping or storing samples in the wrong type of environment, such as a room or truck that’s too hot or too humid.
- Putting the wrong amount of anti-coagulant into a blood sample, which can cause the sample to clot and become unusable.
- Not following up with a doctor or patient after the results of a test come in.
- Performing a test on the wrong sample.
- Performing a test other than what was actually ordered.
- Mixing up patient samples or paperwork.
- Misreading the results of a lab test.
Needle Stick Blood Draw Nerve Injury Attorney
Although drawing blood is a very delicate procedure that must be performed carefully, many laboratories hire employees to draw blood who are poorly trained and do not know how to draw blood properly. When an untrained or inexperienced laboratory employee draws blood from a patient, the patient is at risk for injury caused by the inexperienced employee. Whitney, LLP’s blood draw nerve injury lawyers represent clients whose suffer nerve damage as the result of the needle being improperly inserted, which can cause permanent injury to the nerves in the patient arms and hands. If nerve damage is suffered as the result of an improper blood draw, you may be entitled to significant compensation for your nerve injuries.
If you or one of your loved ones was misdiagnosed or suffered nerve damage or injury because of a medical error by any Maryland laboratory, our attorneys may be able to recover compensation for you and your family. Call the law offices of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 to set up a free legal consultation today, or use our Quick Contact Form.