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Incorrect lab test report triggers multiple unnecessary surgeries

$1.8 million settlement

Action: Negligence

Injuries alleged: Multiple unnecessary surgeries

Case name: N/A

Court/case no.: N/A

Jury and/or judge: N/A

Amount: $1,800,000

Date: March 14, 2023

Attorney: Robert E. Zaytoun, Matthew D. Ballew and Paul J. Puryear, Jr. of Zaytoun and Ballew in Raleigh (for the defense)

In 2009, the plaintiff hired a laboratory testing company to perform certain testing. The lab provided incorrect results, which indicated certain medical risks.

Relying on the test results, and in consultation with her healthcare providers, the plaintiff elected to take prophylactic surgical action, including an immediate and irreversible surgery followed by a second surgery in 2018.

Prior to the 2018 surgery, the plaintiff asked the lab to provide another copy of her test results to her healthcare provider, which it did. The results were a replica of the incorrect 2009 test results previously communicated.

According to the lab company, it was notified in 2020 through an internal reporting system that there may have been a reporting error for a batch of 2009 tests that included the plaintiff. The company did not inform the plaintiff of this discovery for a year.

Once notified, the plaintiff was immediately re-tested, which revealed that she was not at medical risk and that the surgeries she underwent had been unnecessary.

In response to demands and the threat of litigation by the plaintiff, the lab denied any liability and asserted that any claims would be for medical malpractice under North Carolina law, which would be barred by the applicable medical malpractice statute of repose.

The plaintiff responded by arguing that her claims sounded in ordinary negligence and that, to the extent the statute of repose applied, the lab was equitably estopped from asserting such a defense.

The parties reached a resolution before the initiation of litigation.

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