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Personal Injury Blog

  • DC Lab Zika Testing Reported Dozens of False Negatives to Patients Who Had Virus

    Posted By Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. || 12-May-2017

    By: Allan M. Siegel

    In previous blogs, we have discussed the high profile botching of hundreds of Zika tests performed by the District of Columbia public health lab, including roughly 300 tests of pregnant women. According to DC Health officials and federal regulators who audited the lab, a computational error and overdiluted solution used in the testing led to over 400 patients receiving negative results for the Zika virus. In a statement released by officials earlier this week, it was reported that dozens of people were given false negatives.

    DC Zika Lab ErrorThe final tally released by the DC Department of Health has caused a great deal of concern, not only for the hundreds of people who were kept in the dark about their true results while re-tests were performed, but also for the numerous victims and families who, despite being told they did not have Zika, were in fact infected with the virus or had inconclusive results that they might have been. The final tally of affected patients following the re-tests include:

    • Three people originally given false negatives by the DC public health lab did in fact have the Zika virus.
    • One of the three people who were wrongly told they did not have Zika when they actually did was a mother who was pregnant at the time of testing. She has since given birth, and it has been reported that the baby did not have microcephaly, the most concerning birth defect caused by Zika.
    • A total of 26 others who were given false negatives may have been infected by Zika, several of whom were pregnant at the time of testing.

    Tuesday’s announcement sparked extensive distress, especially for the many mothers who may have to wait over a year to know if their child will show symptoms of birth defects related to Zika. In addition to microcephaly, which is apparent at birth, the mosquito-borne Zika virus can also cause a number of other birth defects, including hearing and growth impairments, eye defects, difficulty swallowing, irritability, and problems associated with cognitive, sensory, and motor skill development. These birth defects can create a number of challenges, including life-altering disabilities, for children and their families.

    Health officials state that because the pregnant women were initially told they were healthy and did not have the virus, it is unclear how many of them carried their babies full-term through pregnancy without appropriate medical care. Positive and inconclusive test results, had they been known after the initial test, would have called for further screening and monitoring of the mothers and their unborn babies during pregnancy, as well as testing after birth under federal guidelines.

    This unfortunate set of events occurred only at the District of Columbia public health lab, and has not been seen at any other public health lab in the nation that conducts Zika testing. This incident is a result of preventable errors made by the lab during testing. Because of this, mothers and their families will have to wait for their child to possibly develop life-altering birth defect symptoms before they know the true impact of the error. This is in addition to the emotional toll of enduring the wait and the concerns they faced over months after it was discovered that the lab error meant they could have very well been infected by the virus.

    While the DC public health lab has faced increased scrutiny and was required to revise its procedures, the District of Columbia may still be exposed to civil liability due to the botched tests. Affected families have every right to pursue justice and a recovery of the damages they incurred after receiving false negatives that prevented them from seeking appropriate health care, exposed their children to potential birth defects, and caused tremendous emotional anguish and suffering.

    Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is actively reviewing cases from women, families, and others who were affected by the Zika blood test error. Our legal team has been closely following investigations into the lab, its failings, and how affected families have suffered as a result. We are prepared to leverage our decades of experience to help anyone who wishes to learn more about their rights, whether they may have a valid claim for compensation, and how our firm can help.

    To discuss a potential case related to Zika blood tests performed by the DC public health lab, contact us for a FREE and confidential consultation.

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