Atlee Hall Resolves Failure to Maintain and Test Case

Written by Atlee Hall

Atlee Hall recently resolved a case against a local hospital for its failure to maintain and test a patient’s specimen for cancer. The patient had undergone a transurethral resection of a bladder tumor after a mass was found on an abdominal CT scan. Unfortunately, rather than preserving the patient’s specimen and sending it to pathology for testing, a surgical tech threw a large portion of it out when disposing of other materials post-procedure.

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority has acknowledged the potentially dire effect that a lost specimen may have on patients’ welfare, particularly in circumstances where the specimen that was lost cannot be replaced. As early as 2005, the Patient Safety Authority recommended that all hospitals implement a designated specimen collection system, requiring specimens to be placed into sterile containers and labeled immediately, as well as a chain of custody process to facilitate tracking of specimens.

Through discovery, we were able to show that the majority of the patient’s surgical specimen was not preserved or tested. We were able to show that there was either a lack of safeguards to prevent this error from occurring, or there was a breakdown in the hospital’s procedure. Fortunately for our client, he has shown no signs of cancer since this unfortunate event.

Ultimately, after negotiations, the case was able to be resolved to our clients’ satisfaction.