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Error in DC Lab Tests for Zika Results in Hundreds of Retests, Concerns for Mothers

Zika virus

In what has made national headlines, the DC public health lab is retesting of hundreds of blood samples after a critical error in laboratory testing procedure was discovered. The error, discovered in fall of last year by newly appointed public health lab head Anthony Tran, has led to retests of more than 400 blood samples for the presence of the Zika virus, nearly 300 of which include samples collected from pregnant mothers.

The “calculation error” has been addressed by federal regulators and the District of Columbia public health lab, which has also faced scrutiny and disciplinary actions in the past over its testing and analysis of DNA in criminal cases. Since the error was discovered last year, there have been a number of developments and many concerns over how it may have caused patients and doctors to miss out on critical medical intervention for Zika, a mosquito-borne viral infection that has been linked to serious birth defects. These developments include:

  • 409 Zika tests were sent for retesting to the CDC and other approved public health labs.
  • Of the 409 tests, close to 300 involved pregnant women who were initially told they did not have Zika.
  • Currently, health officials have reported that 9 women who had been told their tests were negative were found to have the Zika virus when their blood samples were retested.
  • Retests are still ongoing, which means others may also test positive for the infection.

The Zika virus is of significant concern for pregnant women because it has been linked to several serious and life-altering birth defects. While most people with Zika do not display or experience any symptoms, or only experience mild symptoms, the infection can be passed from mother to fetus during pregnancy, where it has been associated with birth defects that include:

  • Microcephaly, a condition that causes a child’s head to be smaller than expected, typically due to abnormal brain development
  • Brain swelling, brain tissue breakdown, and calcium deposits in the brain
  • Impaired growth
  • Hearing problems
  • Defects involving the eye
  • Complications during birth, stillbirth, and miscarriage
  • Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder of the immune and nervous system

The devastating consequences of Zika infection for pregnant women and their babies makes the lab error incredibly alarming, especially as it was the result of what officials called a simple mathematical error that could and should have been prevented. This is why federal officials have announced that they will be auditing the lab and further investigating what led to the critical errors.

DC officials have not yet reported whether any of the affected mothers have yet given birth, or whether there were any complications with their pregnancy. The error is believed to have only affected the public health lab in DC.

As Washington, DC medical malpractice attorneys who have a record of success handling birth injury cases, our legal team at The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson, M.D., J.D & Associates wants to extend our support and services to anyone who has been affected by the error in the DC public health lab. This includes local residents who have discovered that they did in fact have the Zika virus after being told they tested negative, pregnant mothers, and women who might have become pregnant after having their blood tested.

The preventable error means that the DC public health lab could be held accountable for their failures and for the damages victims suffer, including their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and future needs. If you or someone you love has been affected, please do not hesitate to reach out to our proven lawyers for the help and representation you need.

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