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Botched diagnostic tests could lead to hospital negligence claims

Oregon readers may not think that a story about a baby who was taken to the hospital where the child was diagnosed and treated for Influenza A is newsworthy. However, that baby died because a botched test led to the incorrect diagnosis. As it turns out, numerous diagnostic tests are botched every year, some of which lead to hospital negligence claims. 

Certain diagnostic tests that are considered routine, low-risk and simple do not require trained laboratory staff. In fact, the person performing the test does not even have to have medical training. It might surprise Oregon readers to know that tests for influenza, Lyme disease and Hepatitis C, among others, fall into this category. These diseases could have fatal consequences, but the tests are allowed to be performed by anyone who can read the instructions.

Unfortunately, not everyone reads the instructions properly. Furthermore, expired tests are used more often than many in the medical field would probably admit. Samples are not adequately controlled in order to avoid mix-ups or incorrect results. For example, a sample may not incubate for the recommended amount of time and will not yield the correct result. 

Oregon residents put their lives into the hands of doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel, and they expect to be given the best, most professional treatment possible. A look behind the scenes, however, could reveal hospital negligence when it comes to how such "routine" tests are performed. If a patient, or a deceased patient's family, discovers that he or she was the victim of substandard care, a medical malpractice claim might provide much needed restitution and could keep another person from going through the same situation.

Source: jsonline.com, "Common medical tests escape scrutiny but often fall short", Ellen Gabler, Oct. 31, 2015

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