Medical Laboratory Errors
There are approximately 36,000 medical laboratories in the U.S. and each serves a vital function in our healthcare system. Whether they’re in-house hospital labs or third-party companies like LabCorp and Quest that handle outsourced testing, lab teams help physicians diagnose disease, prescribe medications, and plan patients’ treatment courses.
Unfortunately, mistakes do happen in laboratories, and the consequences can sometimes result in serious injury and death.
Labs have strict protocols to which they must adhere. They must interpret the test results accurately, know when to alert the healthcare provider of a lab value that is an urgent or emergency medical matter, and ensure that information is relayed to the right medical provider in a timely fashion. Otherwise, people can become severely ill or even die. Labs deal with life and death matters all day every day, and we’re relying on them to do their jobs!
Can You Sue If Your Lab Results Are Wrong?
Medical and hospital mistakes happen more often than many people realize. Approximately 250,000 people die each year as a result of medical errors. In fact, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer.
Determining the percentage of lab errors that lead to injury and death is difficult to quantify. Roughly 13 billion lab tests take place each year, and most of those don’t result in injury and death. Even when errors occur, many cases are resolved with no harm done.
However, if a serious error hindered your medical care, that information will eventually come to light. Labs deal with sensitive medical information that doctors rely on for therapeutic diagnostic purposes. That information must be communicated in a timely fashion. When it’s not — or when there are inaccuracies — patients can suffer.
Approximately 250,000 people die each year as a result of medical errors. In fact, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer.
If you or a loved one suffered an injury or death due to a lab error, you may be able to sue the lab or hospital. You may also have a case if a false positive led to unnecessary surgery or a false negative caused you to go untreated.
A false positive or negative on its own does not constitute grounds for a lawsuit if the patient has not suffered a serious injury as a result. However, in certain circumstances, including critical lab values and tissue biopsies, the error can be a life or death matter.
However, if the misdiagnosis causes a patient to suffer unduly — to the point where medical intervention is all but out of reach — that patient may be able to take legal action. For example, let’s assume a doctor orders lab tests for a patient, and the medical team determines that a suspicious growth is not cancerous. No treatment is ordered, and the patient returns to his or her daily routine as usual.
But as the months pass, the patient becomes increasingly ill. Upon returning to the doctor, the physician finds that the original interpretation of the tests was wrong and that the patient now has stage IV cancer. It’s metastasized and inoperable, leaving them with few options. The patient would then have legal recourse.
How Do You Prove A Medical Lab’s Negligence?
All healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, techs, and physician groups, must follow regulatory guidelines in their practices. There is a common standard of care they’re expected to meet in each patient case. These guidelines include laboratories as well.
Laboratories are subject to governmental regulations that are in place for patient safety. As well, labs must comply with clinical standards to be in compliance with safe practices. When we are litigating a case involving lab negligence, we are ultimately researching for facts and evidence that the lab did not comply with regulatory or clinical guidelines. Oftentimes, the laboratory will have its own policies and procedures which were not followed and this can also be evidence of negligence. Like many other types of medical negligence cases, it will often require the retention of one or more medical experts to render expert testimony concerning the lab’s practices.
Medical negligence can be difficult to prove, and we don’t recommend trying to do so on your own.
When investigating a client’s claim, we look for evidence that a lab team or provider performed below the standard of care. In the case of a lab tech, we ask whether they reported the patient’s results in accordance with the protocols for their particular results. If the tech did follow the protocols, we look at whether the policies themselves fell below the standard of care.
Hiring A Dallas Medical Laboratory Errors Lawyer
Although a lawsuit won’t give your health or make up for the loss of a loved one, bringing a case against negligent labs and standing up for yourself holds medical providers accountable and helps protect future patients.
Most people don’t realize they’ve been victims of lab errors unless someone involved in their care brings the mistake to their attention. But if you suspect your doctor or technician made a mistake, if you were seriously injured, or if a loved one died as a result of a lab error, please call us.
Medical negligence can be difficult to prove, and we don’t recommend trying to do so on your own. But if we take you on as a client, we will bring our resources and expert network to bear, and we will find out if you’re the victim of a laboratory mistake. We know that medical negligence devastates patients and families, and we’re here to help you achieve justice. Contact us below to schedule a no-cost consultation with a Dallas medical laboratory errors lawyer on the Van Wey Law team.