Personal Injury Law and COVID-19 Testing
With 195,000 documented New Jersey cases as of September, the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged our medical systems in many ways. Public health officials stress the importance of large-scale testing for reducing the spread. Routine testing improves the ability to do contact tracing and put potential spreaders into a two-week quarantine period. Medical malpractice still remains a concern.
The Danger of a False Negative
Unfortunately, most medical tests have the possibility of inaccurate results. Patients with the illness may not have developed enough of the virus in their bodies to register as COVID-positive. Also, an individual testing kit may have a flaw that produces an inaccurate reading.
A false negative is especially dangerous in the pandemic. Scientists now know that someone can pass the disease without exhibiting symptoms. If a person receives a negative test result, it can lead to that individual unknowingly spreading the illness. No one wants to be responsible for getting their family members or coworkers sick.
The Frustration of a False Positive
When someone tests positive for COVID-19, the standard procedure is a two-week quarantine. This period is quite stressful as the individual waits to see if symptoms develop. There is also concern about whether not he or she has spread the illness to others. If the test results were inaccurate, it leads to lost wages and wasted time spent worrying for no reason.
Safeguards for Testing Companies and Medical Professionals
Either a false positive or a false negative can make you want to hold someone responsible. Before you start looking for legal solutions, there are some important things to keep in mind.
In the United States, the first months of the pandemic were confusing. There were mixed messages about the best practices for safety. Testing kits were in short supply. As New Jersey, New York and California dealt with serious outbreaks, state governments began to put legal safeguards in place to protect medical professionals. They knew that some doctors and nurses would be operating outside of their normal specialties, and state leaders did not want them to be afraid of providing treatment for fear of lawsuits. These protections mean that there will be a higher bar in proving negligence during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Another issue is the normal limits of accuracy that are part of medical testing. Most tests have a range of uncertainty. Often, tests designed to provide fast results depend on higher levels of the virus in the body. These types of tests have an increased possibility of a false reading. Most test manufacturers acknowledge this limitation when they market their tests. However, some companies have run into legal trouble when they have made claims of 100% accuracy.
The Challenge of Medical Malpractice Personal Injury Lawsuits During COVID-19
The extreme circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic create a challenge for lawsuits based on medical malpractice or negligence. If someone comes down with the illness after receiving a negative test result, it will be difficult to prove that he or she did not come in contact with the virus after the test.
Because tests have a degree of uncertainty, it is difficult to blame the person administering the test for a false reading. For a lawsuit to be successful, the patient would have to show that the medical professional was behaving improperly at the time of the test or was intentionally negligent with testing materials.
Even though pursuing this kind of case is a challenge, a personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate in certain circumstances. If you believe that the person administering your test was working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there may be grounds for a malpractice lawsuit. If you can testify that the technicians at your testing site were handling test materials improperly, a legal solution for the failure to diagnose may be justified. By speaking with a personal injury lawyer, you can get a better sense of how to best pursue your case.
Your Medical Malpractice Legal Partners at RAM Law
The staff members at RAM Law are ready to help you get your life back to normal. Our personal injury lawyers have years of experience working with medical malpractice cases. Contact us today by calling our offices in New Brunswick, Somerville or Freehold at (732)-247-3600 or online at firstname.lastname@example.org.