Blood tests, urine tests, oral swabs, and other lab tests are routinely used to diagnose a wide variety of medical conditions, including genetic disorders, hereditary diseases, cancer, heart problems, STDs/STIs, and birth defects. While most of these tests are performed effectively and produce accurate results, there is always a risk that a lab technician could make a mistake, leading to false positives, false negatives, misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, inappropriate treatment plans, and other harmful medical issues.
If you received a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis because of an error at Quest Diagnostics in Maryland, your family may be able to recover compensation to help with medical bills and other expenses arising from your injury. The clinical malpractice attorneys of Whitney, LLP can help. We have extensive experience representing the victims of lab mix-ups and diagnostic errors in Maryland, and will fight aggressively for the maximum possible compensation on you and your family’s behalf. At Whitney, LLP, we believe that medical laboratories should be held accountable when careless mistakes devastate the lives of the patients who trust and rely upon them.
To start exploring your family’s legal options in a free and private consultation, call our law offices right away at (410) 583-8000. We will keep your information confidential while helping you understand and exercise your legal rights as an injury victim.
What Are Some Common Mistakes in Medical Testing Labs Like Quest Diagnostics?
Quest Diagnostics has Maryland locations in Baltimore, Catonsville, Dundalk, Glen Burnie, and Towson. Its facilities are equipped to perform a wide variety of medical tests, including tests related to:
- Cancer (oncology testing)
- Cardiovascular health and heart conditions
- General health
- Genetic disorders
- Genitourinary conditions
- Immunology and rheumatology
- Infectious diseases
- Neurology and nervous system disorders
- Skin diseases and skin conditions
- Women’s health and gynecology
While the vast majority of samples are handled correctly, the unsettling fact remains that lab errors are a widespread problem in Maryland and throughout the United States, resulting in thousands of preventable deaths and injuries each year.
Errors have the potential to occur at all stages of the lab-work process, which is broken into three phases: the pre-analytical phase, when samples are labeled and organized; the analytical phase, when samples are actually tested; and the post-analytical phase, when test results are reviewed and reported back to the patient’s physician. Studies have found that as many as 70% of lab errors take place during the pre-analytical phase, during which common mistakes include:
- Accidental clotting of blood samples, rendering them unusable. Blood samples can clot if the wrong amounts of anticoagulant are added.
- Losing or mixing up samples.
- Mislabeling samples, or failing to include all the necessary patient and/or sample information.
- Shipping and/or storing samples improperly (e.g. failing to pack and secure samples tightly, using the wrong type of container, excessive heat and humidity compromising the viability of samples).
- When samples arrive with missing information, or compromised by environmental factors or rough handling, there’s a dramatically increased risk that the resulting findings will be inaccurate.
- During the analytical and post-analytical phases of the process, examples of common errors include:
- Failing to follow appropriate testing procedures, such as calibrating a sensitive machine incorrectly.
- Failing to follow up with a patient and/or doctor after the test results come in.
- Interpreting a test result incorrectly, which is virtually guaranteed to result in misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
When samples are stored, shipped, labeled, or tested incorrectly, the outcome for patients can be devastating. The patient might receive a:
- Delayed diagnosis, which takes away the patient’s chance of getting prompt and potentially life-saving care.
- False negative, or a finding that indicates normal health when a disease actually exists.
- False positive, or a finding that indicates a disease where none exists.
- Misdiagnosis, which could lead the patient to be put on harmful, unnecessary, and expensive medications – while allowing the real condition to grow worse.
Which Conditions Are Frequently Misdiagnosed?
Unfortunately, no medical tests can be guaranteed to be 100% fail-safe. There is always a risk that human error could lead even well-designed tests to be administered or interpreted incorrectly, or that samples could be mixed up, lost, or tainted prior to testing.
That being said, some medical tests are more reliable than others, with certain conditions at particularly high risk of being misdiagnosed or confused with conditions whose symptoms are similar. Listed below are some diseases and disorders which are difficult to diagnose, frequently producing inaccurate or misleading test results:
- Breast cancer
- Celiac disease
- Colorectal cancer
- Coronary artery disease
- Genital herpes
- Lung cancer
- Lyme disease
- Multiple sclerosis (MS)
- Pulmonary embolism
If you were injured by a misdiagnosis or lab test error at Quest Diagnostics, or if one of your loved ones was a victim of wrongful death, you should speak to an experienced lawyer about the legal options that may be available to you and your family. While compensation cannot undo the error that occurred, it can help to pay for your current and future losses and expenses, keep your family more financially comfortable, and hold negligent lab technicians accountable for their wrongful acts. To set up a free, completely confidential legal consultation with the diagnostic error attorneys of Whitney, LLP, call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 today.