Published on:

Lab Mistakes Lead to False Cancer Diagnosis

Many people are aware of the deadly consequences of doctors who fail to diagnose a medical problem or wait too long before giving an official diagnosis. A similar medical mistake that is less discussed but with just as harmful consequences is when doctors tell a patient that they have a deadly condition only to later discover that the patient was healthy all along.

The Boston Globe recently discussed an example of that type of medical malpractice. Manuel Barros’s life was turned upside down when, after receiving a biopsy, he was told by his doctor that he had prostate cancer. Willing to do whatever it took to get his health back, Mr. Barros endured a painful surgery to help eliminate the supposed cancer. As a result of the surgery, Mr. Barros suffers from incontinence (forcing him to wear adult diapers) and erectile dysfunction.

However, shortly after his surgery, Mr. Barros doctor informed him of a serious mistake: Mr. Barros never even had prostate cancer. As part of the laboratory process following his biopsy test, the lab had switched Mr. Barros slides with that of another patient. The other patient, Thomas Cloutman, actually had the cancer instead. Mr. Barros was cancer-free all along.

That meant that the months of mental exhaustion, emotional trauma, and the physical toll of the surgery was all for naught. If the lab had only correctly handled the testing materials, Mr. Barros would never have needed to endure any of it.

On the other hand, Mr. Cloutman is facing a similar roller coaster of problems. The mistake meant that he has to endure the flip side of emotions, learning that his negative diagnosis was wrong, that he was indeed suffering from cancer. It is unclear how much the eight-month delay in diagnosis will affect the chances of his full recovery.

Basic healthcare errors like this one involving misdiagnosis are reminders of why advocates need to carefully monitor medical officials to ensure they meet the standard of care patients deserve. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti act as watchful advocates holding hospitals, labs, and other medical providers accountable for the grievous errors they sometimes make. Patients like Manuel Barros have no option but to trust that their medical information and testing materials are handled properly. There is nothing he can personally do to monitor the process.

Please contact our medical malpractice offices if you or someone you know has been similarly affected by medical errors.