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Hospital and Medical Laboratory Tests Can Be Wrong

San Jose Medical Malpractice Attorneys

Blood TestThe results of laboratory tests help healthcare professionals make important decisions about patient treatment, and in many cases, can significantly determine the outcome of an individual’s life. Testing everything from cholesterol levels to paternity, labs across the nation have a duty of care to test patients’ blood and tissues samples accurately. Most people assume that lab results are always right; why would there be any need to question the legitimacy or accuracy of results? Unfortunately, studies and statistics indicate that the labs often gets it wrong, resulting in dangerous - and sometimes deadly - consequences for affected patients. If you have been affected by incorrect laboratory tests that lead to a misdiagnosis or other health consequence, you may have a San Jose medical malpractice case.

When Lab Reports Are Wrong in California

According to an article in the Journal Sentinel, there is no way to know exactly how many patients are affected by mistakes made in the lab every year. However, mistakes are happening, and the Journal reports that errors include, but are not limited to:

  • Using expired products to screen for cancer and lead poisoning;
  • Failing to keep blood cool prior to transfusions;
  • Mislabeling samples;
  • Using malfunctioning machines;
  • Failing to centrifuge blood within the required about of time (i.e. within 15 minutes of collection when testing oxygen levels of a patient’s organs and tissues);
  • Mixing up samples/swapping them between patients; and
  • Failing to perform basic quality control measures.

While there are federal regulations in place for laboratory testing standards, regulations are often violated. And violations are rarely penalized; although 35,000 labs in the United States perform high-level testing, only 90 sanctions were issued in 2013, accounting for less than one percent of total laboratories.

Incorrect Lab Reports and Medical Malpractice - What Can Go Wrong When Labs Make an Error

When labs make errors when testing patients’ blood or tissue samples, the results can be dire. The accuracy of test results is critical for doctors to be able to make sound decisions about what should happen next for a patient - in fact, lab tests influence more than two-thirds of all medical decisions. For example, consider the fact that when a patient has a heart attack or stroke, their blood needs to be tested immediately to determine how much blood thinning medication is necessary for the patient to take. If the results are inaccurate and the doctor gives the patient too much blood thinning medication, the patient could bleed to death; on the other hand, if the doctor gives the patient too little, the patient’s blood may clot, leading to a subsequent stroke or heart attack.

Or, consider the importance of testing for HIV and hepatitis C, both conditions which warrant immediate medical attention if a patient is infected, and can have a huge effect on a patient’s life, relationships, and lifestyle. According to the same article linked to above, more than 400 patients have received incorrect hepatitis C and HIV test results. Inaccurate results could delay treatment, endangeringers patients’ health. In other cases, a patient may undergo unnecessary treatment based on a false positive for the condition(s).

In the most devastating of cases, a patient may test negative for a certain condition - based on errors in the lab setting - that they actually suffer from, such as cancer. A mistake like this can lead to the proliferation and growth of the cancer cells, which could ultimately result in significant harm to a patient, including death.

Our Oakland Personal Injury Law Firm Can Help

From misdiagnosis to unnecessary treatment, the consequences of an incorrect lab report can be devastating for a patient. When a patient suffers as a result of diagnostic or treatment error that could have been prevented with accurate laboratory testing, the affected person has the right to file a lawsuit for damages. The lawsuit could be filed against a hospital or laboratory, or an individual doctor or lab technician, or the manufacturer of a piece of laboratory equipment depending upon the specifics of the case.

At the law firm of Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P., our skilled San Jose medical malpractice attorneys care about you. If you believe that you may have a case, we will review your claim to help you to determine your options moving forward. You can call us today at (408) 289-1417, or contact us online.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.