The Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has reversed a district court’s ruling in a Pap test negligence suit filed by a woman who claims she developed metastatic cervical cancer due to multiple misreadings of her Pap tests by LabCorp employees.
In its decision, the appellate court noted its disagreement with the district court’s reliance upon the Pap test litigation guidelines put together by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and the American Society of Cytopathology (ASC).
Very briefly, Christina Adams had five Pap tests between January 2006 and September 2008, all of which were sent to LabCorp for interpretation. Four of those were reported as normal (January 2006, January 2007, March 2008, September 2008), and one (October 2007) was reported as ASC-US.
Ms. Adams was diagnosed with cervical cancer in August 2009. It is unclear to me based on what I have read whether it was metastatic when she was diagnosed or metastasized later.
She and her husband filed suit against LabCorp in September 2010, alleging it is liable for the negligence of its employees who “misinterpreted and reported inaccurate test results” that “permitted her cancer to metastasize.”
The plaintiffs hired Dr. Dorothy Rosenthal, a pathologist at Johns Hopkins University, as their expert witness. Dr. Rosenthal performed a non-blinded review of only the Pap tests in question and nothing else and concluded:
…LabCorp’s cytotechnologists’ review of Ms. Adams’s slides fell short of the applicable standard of care by failing to identify abnormal cells that should have been identified.