15 Jul 2008

Lab blunder led to abortion

11:09 am on 15 July 2008

The Auckland District Health Board has apologised for wrongly diagnosing a woman with a resistant strain of tuberculosis - causing her to abort her baby.

The blunder occurred when laboratory contractor Labplus cross-contaminated the woman's test samples in March last year.

An independent review of the case criticised Labplus for breaching best practise - and called for a yearly audit of compliance.

The health board says it fully accepts that failings by Labplus resulted in serious consequences for the victim, who had just arrived in New Zealand.

It described the mistake as very distressing and has offered its deepest apologies to the woman and her family.

The review has since made a number of recommendations to Labplus, including bringing processing procedures into line with international standards.

It has also suggested the laboratory improve its lines communication when unusual and unexpected results occur in testing.

The health board says those changes have either already been made or are in the process of being implemented.

Medical lawyer Jonathan Coates says the woman is better off not taking legal action.

Dr Coates says she will be covered by ACC and advises against seeking further damages. If the woman wants to take the matter further she would be better making a complaint to the Health and Disability Commissioner.

Taking the matter to court would cost more than she could ever hope to be awarded.