Lab Errors and Medical Malpractice
Most of the time, when one thinks of medical malpractice, one thinks of medical professionals. However, there are others who can very easily be culpable in a medical malpractice action, among them, lab professionals. If you are harmed by a misdiagnosis or incorrect test, the doctor is likely at fault, but the lab professional may be liable as well.Common Lab Mistakes
While there are a myriad of different lab mistakes that could potentially endanger patients, there are some that appear more often than others. The most common include:
- Mislabeling specimens, which can lead to incorrect test results;
- Sterilization failures;
- Mistakenly providing the wrong blood type for transfusion;
- Clerical errors; and
- Losing or misplacing important samples.
None of these actions are in compliance with the prevailing standard of care, and all of them can bring serious harm to patients, be it physical, emotional or mental. Damages from lab errors must be tangible - that is, there must have been some lasting harm - but they need not be physical in nature. Studies in recent years have proven a pattern of lab negligence in the United States, of which all of the listed problems have been a part. Numerous causes of action have been mounted, but most of the settlements have been confidential.Bringing Suit
Lab techs are not doctors, but they are held to a standard of care, just as doctors are. They have a duty toward the patient by law. This fulfills one of the four criteria that must be met in order to have a case for negligence, under which medical malpractice cases fall. The full list includes:
- The existence of a duty of care between patient and professional;
- The breach of the existing duty;
- Being able to prove that the defendant’s actions were the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries, with no superseding cause; and
- Being able to show that you suffered tangible damages as a result of those actions.
It is less likely for an individual tech to be found negligent in malpractice cases than it is for the medical facility to be found liable; after all, many different technicians will usually handle a given case at different times. Nonetheless, the same steps apply; it is simply slightly different to prove negligence against a company or group than it is to do so against an individual. A lab may more often be found liable under a theory of respondeat superior, where an employer may be found liable for the torts of their employees.Seek Out a Competent Attorney
Laboratory errors can cause havoc in your life, and many different parties can be held accountable for them. An experienced malpractice attorney can help you understand whether or not you have a case. The knowledgeable San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. can guide you through the process of bringing suit and will work hard to get you the best possible outcome. Contact our offices today to discuss your options. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Monterey, Alameda, San Benito, Santa Clara and San Mateo.Sources