Common medical laboratory errors to look out for

March 1, 2023 | Crandall & Pera Law
Common medical laboratory errors to look out for

When it comes to healthcare, accuracy is key. Lab results provide critical information to medical professionals in order to diagnose and treat patients. Even the slightest error in a medical lab report can have significant consequences. Therefore, patients must be aware of the most common medical laboratory errors and the problems they can cause.

Ordering mistakes

The National Library of Medicine reported that healthcare professionals order the wrong tests 20.6% of the time. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including a lack of knowledge about the patient's medical history or a lack of familiarity with the available tests. Additionally, if the healthcare provider orders the wrong test, the results may not accurately reflect the patient's condition.

Using the wrong labels

Mislabeling samples is another common medical laboratory error. This can occur when lab workers do not properly label the samples or if they switch or misplace a label. This can lead to inaccurate results, as the results may indicate the wrong patient or the wrong diagnosis.

Not preparing the patient

Sometimes a healthcare provider will not provide the patient with the necessary instructions for a test, such as fasting instructions. Also, doctors do not always ensure that the patient understands the test or its purpose. These miscommunications can lead to the wrong diagnosis or wrong treatment for the patient. Lab errors can and do happen, but according to the National Library of Medicine, medical professionals can prevent about 73% of these errors. With the right approach, patients and healthcare staff can make sure lab results are accurate and reliable.