Lab Test Errors May Constitute Malpractice in NJ
Medical testing errors resulting in injuries and complications for patients is a topic rarely discussed. And yet, many claims for medical malpractice are based upon testing errors, or at the very least, involve some type of error with lab tests or results. Medical testing errors can be understood in three primary categories: errors in laboratory tests, suggested testing procedures, and human error interpreting or reporting test results.
Anyone who has suffered harm due to medical negligence in testing may be entitled to a financial recovery. If you are among the many who find themselves in this unfortunate situation in New Jersey, Fronzuto Law Group is prepared to assist you. Our medical malpractice attorneys have extensive experience demonstrating that errors involving diagnostic tools, testing procedures, or misread lab results amounted to malpractice. Contact us today at 973-435-4551 for a free review of your case.
Common Medical Testing Errors
There are any number of ways in which a physician may evaluate you and your health. The evaluation begins with an office visit and an initial consultation about your symptoms, previous treatment, and current health status. Doctors often rely on various lab tests to assess the current state of your health and arrive at an accurate diagnosis when symptoms arise. Specifically, doctors often resort to various tests on blood, lymph, amniotic fluid, and plasma among others. They may run scans such as MRI’s, CT scans, x-rays, sonograms, and a host of other tests that scan the various body parts in search of abnormal anatomical conditions. Sometimes, testing mistakes are made resulting in harm and possible malpractice claims.
Some more common testing methods that give rise to malpractice claims include:
- Lack of adequate communication between doctor and patient
- Implementation of the incorrect testing method
- Improper ordering of lab tests
- Failing to follow proper protocol related to the testing procedure
- Failure to transmit or receive the test results in a timely manner or at all
- Inaccurate reading of the test results
- Poor communication between the doctor and lab; and
- General human error
Doctors Make Errors Ordering Tests
Anyone who has ever been to a physician’s office understands that there is an inherent level of trust between you and your doctor. This is true even if you do not know your doctor well or you are just meeting for the first time. The basis for this trust is your belief that the doctor has the training, knowledge, and skill needed to assist in your care. You have good reason to believe that if he or she orders a test, that it is the right test, and that the test is a necessary diagnostic tool, or that it is being ordered in furtherance of your treatment plan. Unfortunately, your trust can be broken and your health can be impacted if testing errors occur.
For example, what if the lab test ordered or procedure utilized is the wrong test for the situation? Similarly, what if the test is faulty or the person processing the lab work does so incorrectly? Unfortunately, this happens often and the person who suffers the most is you, the patient. If you went to the doctor in need of treatment, the doctor tested you, and then you were misdiagnosed, this process can lead to injuries and a claim for malpractice.
Negligence with Lab Testing
Specifically, lab tests account for a large percentage of errors leading to malpractice claims. This is likely because medical treatment is considered a science and most of what medical professionals do is based in science. For example, doctors may employ deductive or inclusive reasoning in determining the current health of a patient and this often involves lab testing. As you might expect, if there is an error in the lab test, it will likely produce an erroneous diagnosis of the current condition. Sometimes, the error occurs at the outset when the doctor or nurse gives the patient instructions to prepare for the test. For example, when providing a urine sample or preparing for a colonoscopy, there are certain procedures that must be followed by the patient. If the instructions are neither given nor followed, the specimen will likely be contaminated. Or, say for instance that the bloodwork performed requires you to fast for 12 hours and you ultimately do not because no one has told you to do so. In this situation, the results may be compromised and your diagnosis may be wrong.
Just as the above involves human error, other common lab errors include simple errors that can be eliminated if procedures are in place and protocols strictly adhered to. In keeping with this notion of human error, malpractice can happen when the person taking the information records the incorrect information or uses the wrong test. Additionally, when the test is administered, it could be mixed up with someone else’s sample, mislabeled, or not tested in a timely manner.
Clearly, many of these errors could be easily avoided if those involved exercised caution and upheld a reasonable standard of care. Failure to do so at any stage of the testing process may constitute negligence and lead to serious injuries or complications for patients.
Injuries Caused by Improper Medical Tests
There are countless ways that testing errors can physically and emotionally harm the individuals counting on them for accurate results and appropriate care to follow. For example, a delay in testing or reporting test results can mean a delay in obtaining proper treatment. Some illnesses are aggressive and every minute counts toward recovery. Therefore, a delay in treatment could prove dire, impeding your quest toward a healthy recovery.
On the other hand, if your lab samples are confused with someone else’s, the result could mean serious preventable harm or even death. For example, if you have some form of cancer but your tests are mislabeled and the diagnoses is given to someone else, you may not receive appropriate treatment in time to successfully combat the disease. Conversely, the person who received your cancer diagnosis could begin unnecessary treatment that permanently damages their health and well-being.
New Jersey Medical Testing Malpractice Lawyers can Help
No matter what lab testing error or mistake was made, if you have been harmed because of medical testing errors or improper lab test procedures in New Jersey, you may be entitled to financial compensation. If medical malpractice occurred, you may be able to obtain damages for both the financial and emotional losses sustained as a result of testing negligence. This includes damages for past and future loss of income, pain and suffering, previous and anticipated medical treatment, and other losses. Do not delay in seeking representation. Contact our local NJ office at 973-435-4551 to discuss your case. Consultations are available 24/7 free of charge.