Lab tests are a vital link in delivering health care services. Physicians rely on the accuracy of lab tests in making diagnoses. Health care professionals such as doctors, nurses and lab technicians have a duty to administer, interpret and report on lab tests properly and accurately. If there is a mistake in the way a lab test is administered, interpreted, or reported, it can cause difficulties in the diagnostic process.
In an analysis of medical malpractice payouts for 2017, a major malpractice insurer reported that 34% of medical malpractice payouts in 2017 were a result of diagnostic error, 24% were for surgical mistakes and 18% for treatment errors. Another malpractice insurer reports that 52% of medical malpractice claims were for error in the diagnostic/lab testing process which includes:
- Choosing and ordering the appropriate diagnostic/lab tests
- Properly performing the tests (including handling the specimens)
- Receiving or transmit test results
- Communicate clearly and efficiently between the lab and ordering physician
- Accurate interpretation of test results
- Clearly communicating test results to the patient
- Repeat tests or additional diagnostics
Examples of laboratory errors that can lead to medical mistakes
Mistakes occur in laboratory testing while administering the test, handling the specimen, or interpreting the and reporting the results. Here are some examples of laboratory errors:
- Contaminating specimens
- Recording inaccurate information
- Conducting the wrong test
- Misinterpreting results
- Delayed testing of a specimen
- Mislabeling test samples
- Mixing up samples and labels
How can laboratory errors harm patients?
If a test result is delayed, the patient might be harmed by not receiving timely treatment. If a test result is misinterpreted, a patient might be harmed due to the misdiagnosis of their condition. If specimens are mixed up in the lab, one patient might be told that they have cancer and receive invasive treatments for a disease they do not have, while another patient is walking around untreated as their disease grows worse.
The law allows those who have sustained an injury because of laboratory or diagnostic error to seek economic and non-economic damages to compensate for their losses. These damages typically include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and any other applicable losses arising from the medical negligence. There is a legal time limit for filing a medical malpractice claim, and if you do not file a claim within this time limit you could lose your right to seek compensation. A skilled medical malpractice attorney can review your case and advise you of your legal options.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a preventable medical mistake, the attorneys at McGowan, Hood & Felder, LLC want to help you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve. To set up a free consultation with a South Carolina medical malpractice lawyer from our team, complete our contact form or simply call us today at 803-327-7800.