Friday, February 09, 2007

Laboratory Corporation of America Nailed by Paterson Jury

According to a front page story in The Record of Hackensack, New Jersey, a jury seated to hear a “wrongful birth” case which involved among others Laboratory Corporation of America as a defendant, Laboratory Corporation of America was found to be at least partially responsible for the errors which resulted in the “wrongful birth” of a child having a rare genetic disorder.

According to the article in The Record, the disorder known as Myotubular Myopothy is a rare defect in the Exon1 gene, which controls muscle development. The family knowing that there was a potential in the family gene pool for the possibility for the condition to be present sought to have testing to determine if the gene was in fact present.

The mother was prepared to abort the pregnancy basing the decision on the result of the test. She was later assured by her doctor that there was no indication of the presence of the gene. She went full term with the pregnancy believing that she ran no more than the usual risk of a normal pregnancy.

When the infant was delivered it was soon clear that the information which she had been given was in serious error. The infant had in fact been born with the disorder and the resulting complications.

It was then that the finger pointing began. Her doctor insisted that he had properly and clearly requested the test be performed by Lab Corp. which then countered that the doctor never requested the test.

So after hearing all of the testimony and reviewing the evidence submitted the jury found as follows:

Of the five (5) named defendants those found to have responsibility in the issue are according to the article published in The Record of Friday February 9, 2007:

• Dr. Aldo Khoury, a high-risk-birth specialist with St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson.
• Laboratory Corporation of America, a major medical testing laboratory.
• Dr. James Tepperberg, director of cytogenetics department at Laboratory Corporation of America.

All three parties were found by the jury to have deviated from “accepted standards of medical practice.”

In regard to financial responsibility the jury found in the following degree of financial responsibility.

Khoury: 50 percent negligent
Laboratory Corporation of America: 40 percent negligent
Tepperberg: 10 percent negligent.

The jury awarded the plaintiff Wanda Tineo the sum of $28,000,000.00 in what some observers said was among the highest they had ever seen in Passaic County. This case makes it clear to the medical community and the diagnostic testing industry that it is extremely important that there always be clear and open lines of communications between the two parties.

It also raises other issues such as a medical professional’s inability to at times do business with a laboratory of choice due in large part to laws affecting the contractual payment of testing services. This situation is directly related to the actions of Health Maintenance Organizations in not dealing fairly and equitably with all laboratories.

It is an issue which in my view deserves examination by the law making bodies of government, individual state judicial bar associations and medical associations acting in conjunction to solve this ongoing problem.

It is a problem which places a barrier in the path of a medical professional effectively preventing the medical practitioner from practicing medicine in the way he or she deems to be best for the patient in his or her care.

As a question, had the plaintiff in a hypothetical case wanted to use the services of a laboratory other than say Laboratory Corporation of America and been prevented from doing so by an H.M.O would the H.M.O. then have some degree of legal responsibility? In my view they would indeed be susceptible to inclusion in such a lawsuit.

As I see the matter, by coercion the insured individual would have been forced to utilize the services of a laboratory which might not be as qualified in testing procedure or operated under the high standards of another laboratory. That lack of high business practice, [found by the jury to have deviated from “accepted standards of medical practice.”] was in fact the main causal reason by which the jury held Laboratory Corporation of America partially responsible.

So basing it on that reason I would have to conclude that by causing an individual in a hypothetical case to use a particular laboratory the H.M.O. would also bear some degree of financial accountability.

But what do I know; I am just a small town snake oil salesman. Perhaps it is a matter which some law school student can consider as a syllabus. If anyone in law school wishes to pick up the mantle on this project I would only ask that you mention old Snake in the title.

Title: Profound universal ramifications of forced diagnostic testing choice sans six sigma quality controls. United Healthcare Syndrome and the world according to Snake Oil Sam.
Snake Oil Sam
Snake Oil Sam Internet Media Publishing © 2007

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