An unmarried teenager, Ms G, attends her local general practice suspecting that she may be pregnant. A urine sample is collected for testing but a systems error results in the sample being sent for culture for organisms and sensitivity instead of diagnostic testing for pregnancy.
The results are subsequently received (and are negative for urinary infection) and the error realised but this necessitates Ms G re-attending to supply a new sample. With the subsequent delay in confirming the diagnosis, the patient's pregnancy advances to such a stage that termination can no longer be carried out locally and she must travel to London for the procedure.
A claim is subsequently made on behalf of Ms G for the added unnecessary distress, and the cost and inconvenience of making the trip to London.
Analysis and outcome
The claim is deemed indefensible and settled without admission of liability for a modest sum.
- A robust system must be in place to avoid error in the processing of samples.
- In giving results it is necessary for staff members to check which particular sample result is being requested.