Every year, doctors across the United States order millions of medical tests and diagnostic screenings. While most will be performed correctly, thousands of blood samples, urine samples, tissue samples, and medical imaging tests will be misread, misplaced, or mixed up with those of other patients, leading to devastating diagnostic errors like false positives, false negatives, misdiagnoses, and delayed or missed diagnoses.
If Woodbrook Laboratory in Salisbury, MD made a mistake on your medical tests, you may be able to get compensated for your medical bills, your pain and suffering, the time you missed from work, and other losses and hardships caused by the error on your lab test. The diagnostic error attorneys of Whitney, LLP will be there to help you explore your legal options at every step of the way. Our practice has successfully handled numerous clinical malpractice claims in Maryland, and is prepared to take on even the most complex and challenging of cases. Call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 to set up a free and confidential legal consultation today.
Did Woodbrook Laboratory Misdiagnose Your Medical Condition?
There are three stages to the process of lab testing and medical imaging: the pre-analytical phase, which is when samples and patient files are organized, shipped, stored, and prepared; the analytical phase, which is when samples are tested and images are taken; and the post-analytical phase, when lab technicians analyze the data and report information back to doctors and patients.
While studies have shown that most lab errors take place during the pre-analytical phase – as many as 70% – the smallest lapse in attention or communication can lead to avoidable mistakes at any time throughout this delicate process. When a lab technician negligently fails to exercise basic precautions, a few harmful outcomes can result for the patient:
- False negatives, or findings that indicate normal health when a disease or abnormality is actually present. Since the patient thinks they are healthy, they don’t receive the treatment they need to recover or improve their prognosis.
- False positives, or findings that indicate a disease or abnormality when the patient is actually healthy. A patient who receives a false positive is likely to be put on medication they don’t need, or be recommended for unnecessary procedures that are risky and invasive.
- Misdiagnosis of a condition. Some examples of conditions which are commonly misdiagnosed include Lyme disease, Celiac disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer (colon cancer), and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis of a condition, which deprives the patient of potentially life-saving opportunities to get early care. If the patient is suffering from a deadly condition like cancer or coronary artery disease, a delayed or missed diagnosis can have catastrophic results for the patient and their loved ones.
Common examples of laboratory negligence include:
- Losing paperwork and patient information.
- Mixing up samples or medical images with those of another patient.
- Accidentally notifying a doctor or patient about another person’s results.
- Failing to promptly contact the doctor or patient with the requested test results.
- Misreading or incorrectly recording the results of a test or screening.
- Failing to follow up with a doctor or patient when something isn’t clear.
- Running a test on the wrong patient or sample.
- Running the wrong type of test.
How Much Compensation Can a Malpractice Victim Recover in MD?
In personal injury litigation, compensation for the plaintiff is sometimes referred to as damages. Like many states, Maryland limits the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover in malpractice cases. These limits, which are called damages caps, increase by $15,000 every year to account for economic inflation. For example, Maryland malpractice cases which were brought, or initiated, on or after January 1, 2014 have a damages cap of $740,000. For cases which were brought on or after January 1, 2015, the limit increases to $755,000. For cases which are brought on or after January 1, 2016, the limit will increase to $770,000.
Compensation varies from one case to the next, because juries, with input from economic experts, take many different factors into consideration when determining what amount is appropriate. These factors include the plaintiff’s age, salary, occupation, medical bills, and whether they were supporting any children or dependents.
When a jury awards compensation, it is called a verdict. When the plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys agree to negotiate a sum prior to trial, it is called a settlement. Sometimes, settlements must be kept confidential as part of the agreement.
If the defendant did something which was exceptionally careless or reckless, the court might order them to pay punitive damages in addition to any compensation strictly intended for the plaintiff’s bills and other expenses. Punitive damages serve two purposes: they are a means of punishing the defendant for misconduct, and deter others from engaging in the same sort of conduct.
The clinical malpractice attorneys of Whitney, LLP have extensive experience handling claims involving careless and negligent lab testing in Maryland. Even if you aren’t quite sure whether you have a case or need a lawyer, we encourage you to call our law offices at (410) 583-8000 to start exploring the legal options that may be available to you and your family. You will not be charged any fees for your initial consultation, and we will keep your information completely confidential.