Laboratory Negligence

Samples are sent to laboratories for testing and examination from every area of health care services. Laboratory personnel are responsible for the collecting, handling, and testing of samples, then interpreting, recording and reporting test results. Results from lab tests are used to diagnose, treat, and monitor disease states in patients. The results of these tests must be accurate, understandable, and delivered in a timely manner.

There are certain instances when a lab error should be considered as a possibility. For example, if a patient’s condition or presentation do not match the test results. Also, if the present lab results are extremely different from previous test results (in the case of monitoring an on-going condition). Second opinions should always be sought when abnormal test results come back.  Have the test(s) done again to be absolutely sure the results are correct. 

Lab errors and negligence can occur in the following ways:

  • Rushing results -- leading to inaccuracies, mistakes, and mix-ups (organizational errors)
  • Sloppy sample taking, not following procedures or contamination of samples (more examples of organizational errors)
  • Using wrong or faulty equipment 
  • Interpreting errors in the results (analytical error) -- physicians are the final interpreters of the results
  • Results are ambiguous or not clearly defined
  • Error made in the recording of the results
  • Losing results or failing to report results to doctor or patient
  • Not getting results to the doctor or patient in an appropriate amount of time

Lab negligence in the form of a mix-up can lead to misdiagnosis. A patient can be diagnosed with a disease they do not have. They can receive expensive, unnecessary, and potentially harmful treatments for a condition they do not even have. Imagine having a surgery to remove a growth that is nonexistent, or suffering debilitating side effects from a powerful drug that is curing nothing and damaging the liver or kidneys. Meanwhile, the disease they DO have goes untreated and can become worse (failure to diagnose error). If the illness is cancer, then failing to diagnose can lead to metastasis (lethal, incurable, systemic proliferation of the cancer). Death can be another unfortunate result of a lab error.

If a lab error prevents the diagnosis of a patient with a communicable disease, then multiple people can become infected with the disease -- in the cases of viruses or bacteria. Exposure of an infected person to others -- whether they be family or health care workers -- are more horror scenarios that can result from lab errors.

If you believe you or a loved one have been the victim of a laboratory error that resulted in the worsening of a medical condition or a death, then you may be eligible for damages. Contact the Sweeney Law Firm and let our experts review the facts to see if you have a laboratory error medical malpractice case. There is no cost for representation. If we decide to accept your case, we will work for you on a contingency fee basis. This means we don’t get paid unless there is a settlement or recovery of funds for you.