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Chapter 12 : Cases Involving Laboratory Errors

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Cases Involving Laboratory Errors, Page 1 of 2

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Abstract:

This chapter talks about cases involving laboratory errors. In one of the cases, the plaintiff was engaged to be married and as a part of the mandatory nonreactive serological test for syphilis, a doctor sent a sample of the blood of the plaintiff to a laboratory for a Venereal Disease Research Lab oratory (VDRL) test and a confirmatory treponemal test (microhemagglu tination assay for [MHA-TP]). As the results were positive, the plaintiff’s fiancée broke off the engagement despite the plaintiff’s protestations of “purity.” When the tests were repeated, in the hospital laboratory as well as in a reference laboratory, the results were found to be nonreactive. The plaintiff brought suit naming his doctor, the hospital microbiology laboratory, and the hospital. The laboratory director pointed out that in all probability the error was due to mislabeling that could have taken place either at the doctor's office or in the in the laboratory itself. The director's suggestion that in future doctors should routinely repeat such positive tests before releasing the result to their patients was adopted, but the one that laboratory results reporting reactive tests for syphilis should routinely contain the message “please repeat with a new specimen” was rejected. Later, the hospital settled with the plaintiff.

Citation: Ellner P. 2006. Cases Involving Laboratory Errors, p 57-63. In The Biomedical Scientist as Expert Witness. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816520.ch12

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References

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1. Jasmer RM, et al. 2002. Aprospective, multicenter study of laboratory cross-contamination of Mycobacterium tuberculosis cultures. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 8: 11.

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