Research has shown that doctors in the U.S. base about 70% of their medical decisions on diagnostic information received from medical laboratories. When a laboratory makes a mistake and gives a doctor inaccurate test results, there is an extremely high likelihood that the patient will be misdiagnosed, or not receive any diagnosis at all. When these types of errors occur, the patient may be placed on harmful medications, undergo unnecessary surgeries, or even lose their life.
If you or one of your loved ones was the victim of a lab test error by Patriot Medical Laboratories in Gaithersburg, the laboratory malpractice attorneys of Whitney, LLP are here to support your family and help you fight for compensation. Our skilled legal team has successfully handled numerous malpractice claims throughout Maryland, and is prepared to investigate even the most complex and challenging of cases. Call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 to learn more about your family’s options in a free, completely confidential legal consultation today.
What is Clinical Laboratory Malpractice? What Are Some Examples of Testing Errors?
Most people are already familiar with the idea of medical malpractice, which occurs when a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or specialist makes an avoidable error, leading to the death or injury of a patient. Clinical laboratory malpractice is very similar, but instead of being a physician, the defendant is a medical laboratory and/or its individual employees, such as phlebotomists, lab technicians, and radiologists.
Like physicians who treat patients, medical lab workers are held to an extremely rigorous “standard of care,” or a set of professional expectations. When a lab worker fails to meet this standard by making a careless, preventable mistake, such as losing a biopsy or contaminating a sample, he or she may have civil liability if a person is injured or killed as a result. (Criminal liability is a separate matter handled by prosecutors and law enforcement.)
In the context of personal injury litigation, the failure of a medical worker to exercise normal, reasonable precautions to minimize the risk of patient injury or death is called negligence, and is a core component of virtually all malpractice lawsuits. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show that a lab worker acted negligently, which is why attorneys will frequently call upon expert witnesses or produce medical records as evidence. Were you a victim of these common forms of medical laboratory negligence?
- Giving a doctor or patient the wrong patient’s test results.
- Losing a sample or specimen, such as a blood sample or tissue sample.
- Letting samples become contaminated by other samples or the outer environment.
- Storing samples in excessive heat or cold, which can cause certain matter to degrade.
- Failing to test a sample before it expires or loses viability.
- Failing to seek clarification when test results are unclear or confusing.
- Performing a test incorrectly.
- Using an obsolete or unreliable diagnostic method when a better, more accurate test is available.
- Testing the wrong person’s sample.
- Running the wrong type of test.
Commonly Misdiagnosed Diseases and Disorders
Even with the aid of cutting-edge medical technologies, certain illnesses and disorders are frequently misdiagnosed as other conditions. Unfortunately, many of these illnesses and disorders are both common and potentially life-threatening without early detection and swift intervention.
When a medical laboratory provides a doctor with inaccurate information, he or she has little chance of making an accurate and timely diagnosis for the patient, which can cause serious harm including shortening of the patient’s life. Even if the condition is nonfatal, a delayed diagnosis often means the patient must undergo aggressive and expensive procedures which could have been avoided had a proper diagnosis been made at an earlier date.
A few common examples of frequently misdiagnosed medical conditions are listed below, along with the diagnostic tests used and the conditions they are often mistaken for:
- Breast Cancer
- Tests – Hormone receptor, HER2/neu, mammogram, breast biopsy, FISH, PET scan, ultrasound
- Misdiagnoses – Cysts, mastitis, fibroadenoma
- Lung Cancer
- Tests – Sputum cytology, bronchoscopy, lung biopsy, CT scan/CAT scan
- Misdiagnoses – Tuberculosis, pneumonia, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Colon/Colorectal Cancer
- Tests – Colonoscopy, CBC (Complete Blood Count), colon biopsy, MSI testing
- Misdiagnoses – Hemorrhoids, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), diverticulitis
- Celiac Disease
- Tests – EMA, tTG-IgA, DGP IgA and IgG, total serum IgA
- Misdiagnoses – Wheat intolerance, IBS, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis
- Tests – TSH, T4, T3, testing for anti-thyroid microsomal antibodies
- Misdiagnoses – Postpartum depression, PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), bipolar disorder
- Lyme Disease
- Tests – ELISA, Western blot test
- Misdiagnoses – Arthritis, fibromyalgia, facial palsy, skin rashes
If you or one of your loved ones was harmed by a lab test error in Maryland, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, hospital bills, lost earnings, physical pain, and other hardships caused by the misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis. To set up a free, confidential case evaluation, call the law offices of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000.