Doctors in the United States base about 70% of their medical decisions on lab test results. When a lab technician performs a test incorrectly, misreads the results of a test, fails to follow up with a doctor, or makes other mistakes, there is a high risk that the patient will suffer serious harm as a result. Hundreds of thousands of people are killed by preventable medical errors every year, and in many cases, these errors can be traced back to carelessness and negligence in a clinical laboratory.
The highly experienced clinical malpractice attorneys of Whitney, LLP have successfully handled numerous cases involving diagnostic errors and delayed diagnoses. We will be here to guide and support you throughout every step of the legal process while helping you understand and exercise your legal rights as a malpractice victim in Maryland. If the University of St. Joseph Medical Center Laboratory made a mistake on your lab test or missed your diagnosis, you deserve answers and accountability. Our knowledgeable team of attorneys can help.
Call Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 to learn more about your family’s options in a free, completely confidential legal consultation. Please do not hesitate to call us at any time of day or evening, including weekends and holidays.
Lab Tests Provided by University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center
Located at 7601 Osler Drive in Townson, MD, the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center provides a wide variety of surgical, clinical, and emergency services for patients. However, doctors often need to get additional data from lab tests before they can make an accurate diagnosis and decide on a treatment plan. Toward that end, the medical center maintains a 24-hour clinical laboratory, which is equipped to perform a variety of routine and emergency tests. Types of laboratory services include:
- Blood draws
- Cytology exams
- Microbiology tests
- Surgical pathology tests
The laboratory’s current test menu includes hundreds of different procedures and screenings, including:
- Blood counts
- Ectopic pregnancy testing
- Epstein-Barr Virus/EBV testing (mono)
- Glucose testing (diabetes)
- Herpes/HSV testing
- HIV antibody testing
- Lyme disease DNA testing
- Mumps antibody testing
- Syphilis testing
- Testing for hepatitis A, B, and C
- Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone/TSH test (hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism)
- Tissue biopsies, including:
- Bladder biopsy (bladder cancer)
- Bone marrow biopsy (bone marrow cancer)
- Breast biopsy (breast cancer)
- Cervical biopsy (cervical cancer)
- Colon biopsy (colorectal cancer)
- Fallopian tube biopsy (fallopian tube cancer)
- Kidney biopsy (kidney cancer)
- Larynx biopsy (laryngeal cancer)
- Prostate biopsy (prostate cancer)
- Small intestine biopsy (Celiac disease)
- Tuberculosis/TB testing
The medical center also maintains outpatient lab collection centers in Towson, which all accept LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics patients.
Examples of Common Clinical Testing Errors
In 1999, the Institute of Medicine found that about 100,000 people died every year because of avoidable medical mistakes. By 2013, that number had more than quadrupled to 440,000.
It is unknown precisely how many of these errors took place in or because of clinical labs. However, the huge number of medical decisions which depend on accurate lab data creates countless opportunities for tiny mistakes and discrepancies to compromise patient care. Despite the medical industry’s continual efforts to improve test accuracy, improve patient safety, and identify best practices, the ever-increasing number of error-related deaths suggests that clinical laboratories are becoming less and less reliable each year.
Accidents and mistakes can happen during any part of the lab testing process, which has three distinct phases. The first phase, or pre-analytical phase, is when samples and specimens are organized, transported, and stored. The second phase, or analytical phase, is when samples and specimens undergo actual testing. The final phase, or post-analytical phase, is when lab technicians analyze the results and contact doctors with the information. Statistically speaking, the highest risk of error exists during the pre-analytical (pre-testing) phase, when nearly three quarters of all mistakes take place.
Some common examples of ways medical labs make serious mistakes include:
- Improperly mixing or storing blood samples, which can cause clotting.
- Storing and/or shipping samples in inappropriate conditions, such as excessive heat or cold.
- Keeping samples inside inappropriate containers, which can cause contamination or leakage.
- Losing patient information, or misplacing the sample itself.
- Running the wrong test on the right sample, or the right test on the wrong sample.
- Calling a doctor with the wrong patient’s test results.
- Incorrectly marking down information.
- Failing to correctly interpret the results of a test, or failing to follow up with doctors when there is any confusion or ambiguity.
- Swapping two patients’ samples or test results.
If the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center Laboratory missed your cancer diagnosis, misdiagnosed your illness, came back with a false positive, or made any other mistakes on your screening, you may be entitled to compensation. To set up a free and confidential legal consultation, call the diagnostic error attorneys of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000 today.