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Atlanta, Georgia Medical Malpractice Attorney - Laboratory Errors

In 2006, the Post Gazette published alarming information indicating that as many as three to five percent of medical specimens evaluated in labs each year are defective.  The Post Gazette emphasized the dangers of faulty laboratory results and indicated that hospitals were taking steps to prevent dangerous lab errors.

Unfortunately, more than six years later, devastating lab errors continue to present a major risk to patients. In fact, the New York Times indicated in an October 12 article that new medical efforts on managing test results had been prompted by the death of a boy who was misdiagnosed in part because his lab results were never communicated to parents or treating physicians.    

When a laboratory error of any type occurs, from a false negative to a false positive to a failure on the part of the lab and doctors to follow up, the consequences can be devastating to patients. Delayed treatment can exacerbate the dangers of certain diseases and significantly reduce the cure rate while a false positive could result in patients undergoing expensive, stressful, painful and unnecessary treatment.  If you or a loved one has been a victim of a laboratory error and suffered harm as a result, an Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer may be able to help.

The Dangers of Laboratory Errors

The consequences of a laboratory error will vary depending upon the specific type of error that occurs. Some common laboratory errors include:
  • Problems with the sample, such as a biopsy that fails to extract tumor cells or a cervical cancer biopsy taken from outside the required “transformation zone.”  The Post Gazette indicates that bad samples are one of the most persistent causes of laboratory errors.
  • Samples not being labeled properly. This could result in the wrong sample being read for the wrong patient, potentially causing devastating consequences to both patients as one gets a false positive and one gets a false negative.  According to the Post Gazette, failure to properly label blood samples with two forms of patient identification is a major source of lab problems.
  • Specimens not being handled properly, potentially contaminating the sample and resulting in incorrect results.
  • Misinterpreted results.  Laboratory workers could make mistakes in performing tests and interpreting the results.
  • Cross-contamination of samples.  Samples can be contaminated as a result of improper laboratory procedures, potentially resulting in false positive results. In The Post Gazette, this type of cross-contamination led to a patient being incorrectly diagnosed with a cancer she did not have.
  • Failure to communicate the results of laboratory testing. When lab test results are not properly communicated to doctors in a timely manner, this can have devastating consequences. In some cases, the results are never communicated and patients never get the treatment they need.
These are just a few of the many problems that occur in laboratories and that can have a harmful impact on patients who count on medical professionals to provide them with accurate health information.  When a patient is not properly diagnosed, life saving treatment can be delayed or may not be received at all. For certain health issues, such as cancer or sepsis, the improper or delayed diagnosis resulting from a lab error can even lead to death.

Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyers Can Help With Laboratory Errors

When lab tests are performed, the healthcare professionals involved are expected to provide reasonably competent care. When there is a laboratory error, the professionals involved can be held accountable for their negligence. You will, however, need the assistance of an Atlanta medical malpractice attorney to help you to prove negligence and to assist in demonstrating that you suffered harm as a result of the lab error.

An Atlanta medical malpractice attorney will help you with all aspects of making your case. From presenting evidence to negotiating a settlement or going to court, the job of an Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer is to help you to get the compensation you deserve. This can include compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering, lost wages and emotional distress.

Contact an Atlanta Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today

At Sammons & Carpenter, our Atlanta medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience fighting for the rights of those who were injured as a result of lab errors. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 404-814-8949.


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