Some medical tests are capable of producing rapid results in as little as 15 or 20 minutes. However, in most cases, your doctor will need to send a sample or specimen away to a lab, such as Hagerstown Medical Laboratory, where it can be screened by lab technicians with special diagnostic equipment. Unfortunately, there are an alarming number of ways serious medical lab errors can occur, from the moment a sample is first loaded into a truck, to the moment the lab technician contacts the doctor to report on the results.
If you or one of your family members suffered an injury or illness because Hagerstown Medical Laboratory made a mistake with your lab tests, the clinical malpractice attorneys of Whitney, LLP are ready to help you fight for the maximum compensation you may be entitled to. To learn more about your legal options in a free, completely confidential case evaluation, call our law offices at (410) 583-8000. We’re here to help you around the clock.
Were You a Victim of These Common Medical Lab Test Mistakes?
The first stage of the lab testing process, which is called the pre-analytical phase, encompasses every step it takes to transport the sample to the lab: labeling, organization, shipping, and storage. This is the stage at which most lab errors occur – as many as 70%, according to a recent medical study. The study, which was published in Clinical Biochemist Reviews, found that some of the most common lab mistakes during this part of the process were:
- Failing to add the proper amount of anti-coagulant to blood samples, which can cause clotting.
- Losing samples.
- Sending labs insufficient samples.
- Sending samples in inappropriate containers, which can easily crack, spill, freeze, overheat, or allow contamination.
- Storing samples in inappropriate environments (e.g. too hot, too cold, too moist).
- Using inappropriate means of transportation.
Even if nothing goes wrong during this sensitive stage of the process, errors still have the potential to occur during testing, which is called the analytical phase, or once the tests have been completed, which is called the post-analytical phase. During the analytical phase, lab technicians make might mistakes such as:
- Failing to properly sterilize equipment.
- Using a piece of equipment incorrectly.
- Using an inappropriate test (e.g. testing for the wrong condition, using an obsolete test which has been replaced by more accurate and reliable methods).
- Testing the wrong sample.
Finally, during the post-analytical phase, patient harm can result if a lab technician makes errors such as:
- Failing to promptly follow up with the doctor who ordered the test, or the person who requested it.
- Misinterpreting the results of the test.
- Mixing up paperwork, which can lead to notifying the wrong doctor or patient of “their” results.
These types of errors can result in:
- Delayed diagnosis
- False positives
- False negatives
When a patient does not receive a timely diagnosis, or is told that he or she is sick or healthy when the opposite is actually true, the patient is deprived of the chance to get timely, appropriate treatment. They may be put through unnecessary surgeries, prescribed medications they do not actually need, or receive a significantly worse prognosis than they would have had a correct diagnosis been made earlier in the process.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Conditions and Unreliable Diagnostic Methods
As medical knowledge becomes more advanced, some tests inevitably begin to be edged out by superior methods with higher accuracy rates. The following list provides just a few examples of the many tests which have been described as unreliable or out-of-date by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):
- Bendien’s test (cancer, tuberculosis)
- Bolen’s test (cancer)
- Cephalin-cholesterol flocculation tests
- Colloidal gold tests
- Lupus erythematosus (LE) cell tests
- Rehfuss tests (gastric acidity)
Skin tests for:
- Cat scratch fever
Unfortunately, even with modern testing methods, some diseases and disorders are notoriously difficult to diagnose correctly. Some examples of commonly misdiagnosed conditions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Breast cancer
- Celiac disease
- Colorectal cancer
- HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
- Lung cancer
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Pulmonary embolism
- Rheumatoid arthritis
If you or one of your loved ones was injured by a missed diagnosis, delayed diagnosis, false positive result, false negative result, or other lab test errors, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical bills, the time you missed from work, and the pain and suffering you have endured. When negligent lab technicians make careless mistakes, they should be held accountable for the physical harm, emotional distress, and financial strain they inflict on the patients who trust them for care. Call the Maryland diagnostic error attorneys of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 to set up a free, confidential legal consultation today.