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DC Blood Lab Makes Errors in Hundreds of Zika Tests for Pregnant Women

By: Allan M. Siegel

Officials from the District of Columbia Department of Health have reported failings in hundreds of Zika tests performed for pregnant mothers. The public admission, made on Thursday February 16, 2017, also noted that some pregnant women were incorrectly told they did not have the mosquito-borne virus when they in fact did, and that officials would be re-testing blood work from more than 400 patients.

DC Blood Lab ErrorsThe DC blood lab Zika error has sparked widespread concern, especially for mothers who were told they did not have the infection. Zika is a serious viral infection spread primarily through mosquito bites, and it poses greatest risks to mothers who can then pass the infection to their unborn child. Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects, including microcephaly (a brain defect), Guillan-Barre syndrome (a disease of the nervous system), hearing deficits, impaired growth, and defects of the eye. The infection can also be transmitted sexually.

Here are some details about what is currently known about the blood lab errors:

  • Officials will be redoing over 400 tests originally performed by the DC public health lab for blood work collected between January and December of 2016.
  • The 400 tests that will be retested include approximately 300 tests of pregnant women who may have received false negatives for Zika. Blood samples from pregnant mothers were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for retesting.
  • As of February 23, District health officials reported that at least 9 women have tested positive for Zika after they were told they did not have an infection because of botched tests.
  • Roughly 100 blood tests involving pregnant who may have received false negatives will still need to be retested, which means other women may also have Zika.

The results of re-tested samples are nothing short of alarming, particularly as they involve pregnant mothers who could have addressed the infection and its life-altering risks for unborn babies had tests been correctly performed and had they been informed of the positive Zika result. District officials have not yet reported whether any of the mothers who tested positive for Zika had given birth in the time since they received the false negative.

According to the CDC, the faulty blood tests are an isolated incident to the DC public health lab discovered last fall by a new Department leader who was suspicious that all 400+ blood tests for Zika were negative. Upon investigation by federal officials, an error was identified in the lab’s testing procedure. The DC public health lab has received criticism over its handling of testing in the past, and recently had its DNA testing and analysis program suspended for 10-months following concerns in criminal cases.

Help for Local Victims & Families: Call for a FREE Consultation

Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. is currently reviewing cases from pregnant mothers and others who had a blood test performed between July 14 and December 14, 2016. Our award-winning DC personal injury lawyers are available to help women and their families determine their legal rights after being initially told they did not have Zika, only to find out they did in fact have the infection upon retesting.

If you or someone you love had a blood test performed last year by the DC public health lab while pregnant, do not hesitate to reach out to our caring and compassionate legal team as soon as possible. Re-tests are still being conducted, and health officials are still following up with patients regarding the new results and whether their child experienced any birth defects or birth injuries as a result of Zika. Our firm is prepared to immediately assist victims and families as more information comes to light and as we continue to investigate.

To discuss your potential case and rights, contact us for a FREE consultation. Our personal injury lawyers proudly serve residents throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.