Negligence in Healthcare: Medical Lab Results Mistakes
Medical errors are considered the third leading cause of death in the United States and there are a lot of different ways those mistakes can happen. Doctors can make mistakes during procedures or a nurse might administer an incorrect dosage of a medication. Mistakes involving lab test results are another very common issue.
It’s estimated that over thirteen billion medical tests are performed in the United States every year, ranging from routine screenings to more specialized tests for things like diseases and genetic disorders.With so many tests being conducted, it’s inevitable that some mistakes will be made in the process and unfortunately, those mistakes can contribute to an incorrect diagnosis and result in a person either getting incorrect treatment, getting treatment too late, or allowing an illness to become worse.
Just like there are many different ways for medical malpractice to occur, there are many different ways mistakes can occur with lab tests. A 2008 study found that 13% of testing mistakes involved things like failing to order a test, ordering the wrong test, or ordering the test but not conducting it properly. In cases involving diagnostic imaging tools like X-rays and MRIs, scans might be performed or read incorrectly. With other types of medical tests, samples can get mixed up, contaminated, lost, mislabeled, or results are interpreted incorrectly. Another study from 2013 found that over 70% of lab errors involve mistakes that were made prior to the sample being collected.
It’s also not uncommon for there to be gaps in communication between labs and medical practices, or even between doctors and patients. In the study from 2008, researchers found that 25% of mistakes involved getting results back from the lab, such as delays in getting the results or not getting the results back at all. In about 7% of those mistakes, patients were not informed about the results of the test.
Even labs that follow very strict procedures to prevent mistakes from happening can still make errors. If mistakes can still happen even with all those safeguards in place, what can you, as a patient, do to protect yourself?
If you need to have a medical test, one of the best things you can do is learn about what exactly the test is, how it’s supposed to be done, why it’s being conducted, how samples will be stored/transported, and if there are any risks involved. You could also ask about the lab that will be processing your results to make sure they are following approved procedures. Your doctor should be willing to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you might have.
Cases of medical errors can be very complex, so if you’ve been seriously harmed by a lab error, don’t hesitate to contact a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have attorneys who are experienced in helping victims like you get the compensation you need. We can answer your questions and work with you to figure out which steps to take next. Contact us today to learn more.