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Lab mix ups can make patients fret or relax unnecessarily

Patients rely on laboratory testing for a variety of things, including life-altering diagnosis of medical conditions. In some cases, the lab results can give the patient false hope or a false sense of worry. In both cases, it is unfair to the patient to have to deal with these issues because of errors in the lab.

The issue of errors in the lab can mean that a patient who is awaiting biopsy results gets a "no cancer" report when the sample he or she provided was actually cancerous. It can also mean that another patient is told that he or she have cancer when the sample is actually benign. In both cases, the patient can end up going through difficult medical challenges.

In the case of the person who has undiagnosed cancer, the cancer will continue to spread and worsen until other symptoms creep up and more testing is done. This could mean that a treatable cancer becomes terminal.

In the case of the person who didn't have cancer but was told he or she did, this could mean that he or she goes through surgery, radiation or chemotherapy unnecessarily. This could have an impact on the quality of life and the future of the person.

There is a technology that could prevent these types of issues from occurring, but labs aren't jumping on the chance to do this because they claim that the error rate is too low to justify the cost of this technology. Each test done with the new technology, which uses the patient's DNA costs around $300 on top of the normal fees. Is this a case of money over safety? Some might think so.

If you suffered harm because of an error in the lab, you might opt to take action. Seeking compensation for the damages might help you financially and it could help to prove a point to the lab about ensuring the accuracy of tests it is trusted to perform.

Source: The New York Times, "The Lab Says It’s Cancer. But Sometimes the Lab Is Wrong.," Gina Kolata, June 26, 2017

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