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Are lab errors an example of medical malpractice?

On Behalf of | Apr 17, 2024 | Medical Malpractice

Medical tests and laboratory procedures are vital components of healthcare. The results of these tests assist doctors in diagnosing illnesses and crafting treatment plans.

However, there are times when these tests might go wrong. This can lead patients to understandably wonder if lab errors constitute medical malpractice.

Understanding medical malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to meet the standard of care expected in their profession, resulting in harm to the patient. This harm can be physical, emotional or financial. It is important to note that medical malpractice does not necessarily imply intentional harm. Rather, it refers to negligence or incompetence in providing care.

Lab errors and inaccurate tests

Lab errors or inaccurate medical tests can be examples of medical malpractice if they result from negligence or incompetence. When a lab technician fails to follow proper procedures, mislabels samples or misinterprets results, it can lead to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis. These types of results increase the likelihood of harm to the patient. Similarly, if a healthcare provider orders unnecessary tests or relies on outdated testing methods, it can constitute medical malpractice.

Seeking recourse

Patients who believe they have been harmed by lab errors or inaccurate medical tests can seek recourse through established processes. This may involve filing a complaint with the healthcare facility, seeking a second opinion or consulting with a patient advocate. In cases of serious harm, legal options may also be available to pursue compensation for damages.

A study on the types of errors that occur in medical lab testing found that up to 68.2% of lab errors occur in the preanalytical phase and often lead to compounding mistakes throughout the process. When these types of errors occur, they often constitute instances of malpractice that can severely harm patients.