Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Prostate biopsies often misidentified

A recent study has shown that as many as 3.5 percent of prostate biopsy specimens were switched or mistakenly attributed to the wrong patient. Though most labs only had an error rate of around one percent, certain labs had a much higher rate of mistakes.

One major problem regarding the confusion of the specimens was that most of the mistakes were never even recognized. This is in part because the characteristics of the specimens are often similar. However, an undiscovered misidentification could lead to either a mistaken diagnosis, or a failure to diagnose a prostate problem such as cancer altogether.

The authors of the study suggested that DNA testing be conducted to confirm the identity of the individual providing the specimen. Whatever the circumstances may be, procedures do need to be put into place to assure that no treatment errors occur as a result of a misidentification.

Individuals injured due to a misdiagnosis or a failure to diagnose a problem would be well served to discuss their individual circumstances with an attorney that practices in the area of medical malpractice. These attorneys can investigate what occurred and discover what has and, perhaps more importantly, has not occurred at a hospital or clinic.

As in so many situations that can lead to medical mistakes, a mix-up of biopsy specimens would probably take many Pittsburgh patients by surprise that this is a problem that can occur. Most patients assume that some sort of identification system would be in place to prevent confusion. Yet medical malpractice most often occurs because of very human and very preventable mistakes.

Source: Medpage Today, "Study Shows ID Errors in Prostate Biopsies," by Charles Bankhead, Jan. 10, 2013

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