Modern medicine is marvelous. Unlike those in previous centuries, today’s physicians have access to a variety of tools to help them diagnose and treat disease. If you have ever felt ill, there is a good chance your doctor has sent some specimens to a laboratory for testing.
While medical labs provide an invaluable service, they are not perfect. In fact, according to a recent study, failures during lab testing harmed roughly one out of every 20 patients. If your doctor missed your diagnosis, misdiagnosed your condition or otherwise provided ineffective medical care, lab testing may be to blame. Here are three medical lab problems that may cause you harm:
1. Contaminated specimens
For blood, urine and other specimens to provide reliable information through lab testing, they must be clean. That is, a contaminated specimen may affect both your medical diagnosis and your treatment plan. As such, lab technicians, physicians, phlebotomists and others must follow procedure carefully when collecting your specimen.
2. Mislabeled specimens
Receiving bad news from a physician is both stressful and scary. If your doctor or lab technician does not correctly label your specimen, you could receive someone else’s results. Even worse, you may undertake treatment that is unnecessary or harmful. Further, if your physician uses a different patient’s lab results to treat you, your underlying condition may worsen.
3. Incorrect testing
Physicians have hundreds of medical tests they can order to either confirm or rule out a medical condition. If your doctor does not order the correct tests, though, he or she may not be able to properly diagnose you.
Most doctors work diligently to treat patients. Still, the specimen your physician sends to the lab and the results he or she receives back are not infallible. If your doctor missed your diagnosis or thought you had a different condition, you may need to act quickly both to preserve your legal rights and recover fully.