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04 Jan 10 LabCorp Test Mistakes HTLV Virus

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LabCorp MistakesI received this email from Joan in New York who was misdiagnosed as having the HTLV virus by LabCorp. LabCorp mistakes, like this one, cause thousands of dollars in additional tests and devastate the lives of those misdiagnosed. Sadly, LabCorp may have mixed her blood samples with someone elses or could have had a bad reading because of tired, overworked Laboratory technicians. We’ll never know why Laboratory Corporation of America made this mistake, but I can guarantee you that it’s not the first nor will it be the last.

Here’s what Joan had to say:

Labcorp original blood work returned a positive result for HTLV, Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus.  If you can imagine, I was devastated.  The last two weeks have been awful. This virus is much like HIV;  it’s sexually transmitted, and transmitted through needle sharing and blood transfusions. My doctor also communicated there was no cure. 

I could not imagine where I would have contracted such a disease, but I have been feeling weak and tired, and assumed it was true.   My family and I have been devastated.

My doctor does not trust Labcorp, but since Labcorp is the only approved lab with United Health Care, (shame on United Health Care) he ordered a second test.  In the meantime, he has sent me to numerous other MRI appointments and the like looking for tumors, all at the cost of my insurance company.  Last night, I got the results and the second test was negative for HTLV.  I am grateful that I don’t have HTLV, [if I can trust their second test]; but I wonder if there is someone else out there who does… and does not know. I question Labcorp’s  laboratory process and wonder if they got the blood mixed up otc viagra substitutes. Is it possible that there is a person out there who is positive for HTLV and is unknowingly spreading this death sentence virus to others?  Labcorp is incompetent.

I agree with you… Labcorp sucks!

Joan

New York, NY

HTLV Virus ProgressionHere’s information about this dreadful disease and how devastating it is. Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-I) causes adult T-cell leukemia in about 2.5% of those persons infected with the virus. The time between acquiring the infection with HTLV-1 and developing disease is thought to be 30-50 years. HTLV-1 also can cause a neurological disease called HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis in about 5% of those infected. This is an illness that affects the spinal cord and white matter of the central nervous system. Manifestations include difficulty walking and weakness and stiffness of the lower extremities more than the upper extremities. Bowel and bladder control may be lost. A number of other disorders have been associated with HTLV-1 including inflammation of the joints or eyes. HTLV-I is endemic in Japan, the Caribbean, New Guinea and parts of Central Africa. Prevalence is highest in southwest Japan. It is not common in the United States.

Human T-lymphotropic virus type 2 (HTLV-II) may cause neurodegenerative disease such as myelopathy, and it may be associated with hematological malignancies but the association between the virus and these diseases is weak. The virus is endemic in Native Americans in South, Central, and North America.

Enzyme immunoassay screening of serum, with confirmation by type specific western blot, immunofluorescent assay or polymerase chain reaction can be used to determine carrier status and help in confirmation of either HTLV-I or HTLV-II disease. Specific pathological conditions must be present for disease diagnosis.

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21 Nov 09 LabCorp Getting More Government Money

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Just last month, LabCorp reported that they made $131.4 Million dollars in profit for the latest quarter, on revenue of $1.19 Billion. That was a 17% increase in profits as compared to the same quarter last year. Obviously LabCorp stock (NYSE: LH) went up to a new yearly high and all the senior executives high-fived each other.

North Carolina Property of LabcorpWell that was last month. Just a few days ago Labcorp went to the state and local governments in North Carolina for a handout of taxpayer money.  LabCorp wants to consolidate its billing operations and if it selects Greensboro as the location of the new facility, it would receive nearly $900,000 in taxpayer money. That’s free money from the taxpayers that will never be repaid.

The Burlington-based company is reportedly considering moving its billing operations from 24 sites across the country to one location in Greensboro or in Danville, Virgina. On Thursday, Guilford County commissioners approved giving the company $248,791 of tax payers money. The city of Greensboro also is offering $373,000. North Carolina would grant Labcorp $275,000 of taxpayer money. That’s a total payoff of $896,791 of taxpayer’s money. The excuse the elected officials are using is North Carolina’s unemployment rate, which is up to 11% and above the national average. This is the ninth straight month the state’s unemployment rate has reached double digits. So what is the government doing handing out free money to a company that just made over $131 Million in the last three months?

So as I see it, a cash strapped state, county and city have decided to payoff LabCorp, a company that made over $131 Million in profits over the last three months, to move their billing operations to their region. It is obvious that LabCorp threatened to move the operation to Virginia in order to get the cash from the taxpayers of North Carolina. I would like to know how many of the elected officials involved in the decision have, or will receive political contributions from LabCorp? Who knows what LabCorp will ask for next? How about adding the following motto to the state’s seal “Property of LabCorp.”

Location of the Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point CSA:      Greensboro     Winston-Salem     Thomasville-Lexington     Burlington     Mount Airy

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27 Sep 09 LabCorp Billing Patients More Than Allowed

LabCorp Billing & Attorney Who Want to Hear From YouI recently received an email from John Hoevel, a prominent attorney in Chicago, who is thinking about filing a class action lawsuit against LabCorp for over billing patients. It seems that LabCorp is billing the patient’s insurance company and then over-billing the patient more than the patient responsibility portion of the insurance (or as LabCorp Billing & Over Chargingthey call it in the insurance world, more than the co-payment). The bottom line is that if LabCorp is billing patients more than they are allowed, Hoevel & Associates wants to stop them.

He would like to hear from you if:

1. Your insurance company processed a claim for LabCorp services, and

2. LabCorp or LCA Collections billed you for a balance higher than the patient responsibility amount shown on your insurance company’s Explanation of Benefits (EOB), and

3. You paid the balance, or any portion thereof flagyl pills.

You can contact Mr. John Hoevel by emailing him at lab@hoevellaw.com. All emails will be kept confidential and you may have an opportunity to recover some of those over-billings.

If you are a LabCorp employee who knows about this or any other unethical practice by LabCorp, please contact Mr. Hoevel. Your statements can be very useful in stopping unethical actions by LabCorp and you and your job will be fully protected by the law under the Whistleblower Act. You might even get a reward.

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19 Apr 09 Lab Error on Blood Test

Making a lab error on a blood test can have a serious impact on a life. I don’t know if LabCorp employees don’t care, or if they are simply numb to the impact of their lab errors because they rapidly run through so many blood tests. This is part of their “quantity is more important than quality” problem.

I received this email from Natasha today. I don’t know what I would do if this LabCorp lab error occurred during a blood test on my child. It is devastating news that no one should have to endure as a result of a lab error.

Angelman Syndrome - Click for Large Image

Angelman Syndrome - Click for Large Image

LabCorp diagnosed my son with a rare genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome by a Methylation blood work test. This syndrome is characterized with mental retardation, lack of speech, and seizures just to name a few symptoms. Our family was devastated, and we grieved for months.

When he got in to see a neurologist, he ordered another test to get more information about which type of the syndrome he may have. This test came back negative. We were shocked, but tried not to get our hopes up too high because we did not know which test was accurate. When we finally got in to see the geneticist, he ordered another round of genetic testing, this time a more detailed test called a cgh, as well as the original test. All negative.

LabCorp told the genetic counselor that they think they switched his blood. For privacy reasons they wont tell us anything, but assured her that they would try and find the child who really has this condition. As relieved as we were to have the good news, we are so angry for this mix up happening in the first place. Months and months of our lives were taken from us, and I still have not received one phone call from Lab Corp. We are unsure how to proceed from here. Anyway, this is an EXTREMELY abbreviated version of the story. Please let me know if you would like more information, I will do anything to help, no family should go through what we experienced.

My recommendation to Natasha is that she find a lawyer and sue LabCorp for punitive damages. A blood test lab error of this magnitude should be sufficient grounds for a lawsuit. One that I am sure LabCorp would settle quickly before the news quickly spreads and their testing service loses even more credibility.

The days between getting LabCorp’s lab results and finding out about LabCorp’s error were probably Natasha’s worst days of her life. No health services provider has the right to do  this to anyone. It’s obvious that Laboratory Corporation of America understands money, so they should pay for their mistake. In addition, government regulators should step in so that this never happens again.

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13 Apr 09 Making Mistakes and Charging for Them

This is an email that I received from Debbie. She sounds like a wonderful mother who feels for her son who will unfortunately have to give blood again. Just as bad is that LabCorp is attempting to charge her for their own mistake.

LabCorp Employee Makes Little Boy CryJust frustrated that I received a call from my pediatrician who told me that Lab Corp ran the wrong blood test on my three year old.

 Unfortunately, they had to stick him twice to get a good vein. All the trauma and crying was for nothing, as they didn’t follow the doctors orders for the test. Now, I have to phone them and argue about payment. We have a very high deductible since we are self employed, and I believe we should not have to pay for a test that was not needed. Wish me luck.

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12 Apr 09 LabCorp’s HIPAA Violation

Here’s a recent story from the Winston-Salem News. LabCorp’s clear violation of the HIPAA laws is of grave concern. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, releasing medical information to someone that has not been authorized to receive it is punishable by up to $10,000 per incident and prison time. The only problem is that out of tens of thousands of complaints filed, the government has fined just a handful. Well here’s the LabCorp HIPAA violation, which is probably happening on a daily basis.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — April 11, 2009, A Triad medical company said it mistakenly faxed almost a dozen pages of personal patient information to the wrong number.The lab test results were sent from LabCorp, and were meant to go to Winston-Salem Health Care. Instead, they went to Leigh Ambruso’s home insurance office.

“I don’t know how to read test results,” she said. “I know enough to know I wasn’t supposed to have this information.”

For six days LabCorp sent information from about 12 patients to Ambruso’s fax machine. Originally, she said, she didn’t think anything of it. “I just want people to know this is happening,” she said.

But the faxes kept coming. Ambruso said she explained the error to someone at Winston-Salem Health Care who was supposed to get the information. “She said, ‘Do me a favor and fax them to me,'” Ambruso said.

She said she finally had enough and realized the fax was violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). “I said, ‘If you send me one more fax, I’m going to call the patient and tell them I have their personal information,'” Ambruso said.

One of the patients….William Dull said he was anxiously waiting on results to determine if his cancer remained in remission. “It’s very upsetting,” Dull said. “It’s not being handled like it should be.”

No one at LabCorp would talk on camera. The company eventually responded.

“The fax number has been corrected in our computing systems to prevent similar incidents in the future,” the company said in a statement.

A Winston-Salem Health Care representative said that the company takes the security and confidentiality of patient information very seriously. “We appreciate the caller’s efforts to bring this situation to LabCorp’s attention so that it could be addressed,” a company representative said. Winston-Salem Health Care said it is still investigating the mix-up.

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23 Oct 08 LabCorp Complaint

I received this complaint that was also submitted to Labcorp through the patient feedback section of their web site. Complaints like this one should be immediately followed up by LabCorp managers. Whether they are followed up or not, now that’s a different story. LabCorp’s regional managers tend to find secondary excuses for the complaints. In other words, they find ways to blame the patient instead of the LabCorp employees who are poorly trained or worst yet, poorly supervised. That seems to be the universal problem in almost all LabCorp regions.

I recommended to Nancy that she contact United Health Care and notify them about the incident with her child. Hopefully that will persuade United Health Care to select better quality lab service providers. Here’s Nancy’s complaint:

I had to take my 11 year son to Labcorp yesterday in Deland Florida and we had a HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE. First the tech gave him something to squeeze, tied off one arm, poked and prodded with her finger, untied it, tied off the other arm and did the same. Took the tourniquet off and called in a co-worker to “hold his arm, he wasn’t co-operating.” I said to her, “He’s holding perfecting still, what do you mean he’s not cooperating?” She said “He’s not squeezing hard enough”. She then stuck him with the LabCorp in Deland, Florida that complaint was filed against.needle, nothing came into the vacutainer tube, she then proceeded to stick it in DEEPER and wiggle it around……I told her take it out, she had one shot, and by this time he was crying and I hadn’t seen him cry in years….She then says, “Well do you see how thick his arms are for a kid?” “Go take him to the hospital” and as she took the tourniquet and supplies away I saw that it was a glass blood tube that she was having him squeeze…he was afraid he’d break it……I still have to get his blood work done but I’m checking other labs for cost because my United Health care pays for Labcorp only and I’d rather pay out of pocket than go to Labcorp again. I was going to go to another site but after reading all the complaints online it seems they are all as equally unprofessional, rude and inadequately trained.

Here’s the email I sent her:

Nancy:

I posted your incident on the labcorpsucks.com website, and withheld your name. How sad that they would do that to a child. I highly recommend that you contact United Health Care and let them know of how your son was treated. They might even authorize you to go to another lab or have the blood drawn at a doctor’s office. Having unqualified or poorly trained personnel at a lab service center is the fault of management. I have noticed that there are many complaints about management in your region. Please feel free to refer United Health Care supervisors to see how many complaints are posted on labcorpsucks.com. Hopefully that will move them to stop using LabCorp and select a lab services provider that will provide higher quality health care services for their insured. I will also forward your incident to Florida’s AHCA (Agency for Health Care Administration). I highly recommend that you call Florida’s AHCA and file a complaint with them as well. Here’s the info on how to file a complaint in Florida:

Florida Health Care Facility Complaints

Consumer Complaint, Publication and Information Call Center

The agency provides a toll-free telephone system for consumers to call in order to file complaints, receive publications, information and referral numbers. This system can be accessed by calling the number below between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M. Eastern Time Monday through Friday. Complaints about health care facilities are taken during regular business hours, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Eastern Standard Time (EST).

(888) 419-3456

For registering your complaints, requesting publications or requesting information, use the following options:

Press Option 1

Available Monday – Friday, 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., EST. To file a complaint about a health care facility. The call center can also refer you for information on facilities.

Good luck.

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09 Oct 08 U.S. says LabCorp Ovarian Cancer Test Sales are Illegal

The United States Food and Drug Administration issued a letter to LabCorp warning them that they are in violation of the law. LabCorp doing illegal things brings up their checkered past, when they were charged with fraud in the LabScam investigation.

The FDA warning letter and possible criminal and civil action against LabCorp could be the beginning of the end for Laboratory Corporation of America. I say this because as one government agency moves against them, there are possibly other government agencies that might step up to further investigate other allegations against the company. It’s about time that this regulatory oversight process start. For too long LabCorp has focused on the buck as opposed to the law and the required quality standards. In my own opinion, it is a company that is out of control.

Here’s the FDA story:

WASHINGTON, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Laboratory Corp of America (LH.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is violating the law by selling an ovarian cancer screening test without regulatory approval, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday.

The OvaSure test does not fall in a category that can be sold without prior clearance from the agency, the Food and Drug Administration said.

“Because you do not have marketing clearance or approval from the FDA, marketing OvaSure is in violation of the law,” the agency said in a letter dated Sept. 29.

The agency told the company to “take prompt action to correct these violations.”

LabCorp spokesman Eric Lindblom said the company was “disappointed” by the letter.

“We are currently in discussions with the FDA over the next steps and of course we share the FDA’s determination to assure patients are protected,” he said.

The company started selling the blood test in June, saying it could detect early-stage ovarian cancer in high-risk women.

The FDA letter was posted on the FDA website. You can read the full letter by clicking here.

LabCorp shares (NYSE: LH) fell nearly 1.8 percent today to close at $60.63 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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03 Sep 08 LabCorp in Trouble with the U.S. FDA – Their testing “may harm the public health”

This is a recent article about LabCorp and their practices. The United States Food and Drug Administration believes that LabCorp’s testing “…may harm the public health.” Shame on you LabCorp for putting money before patient’s health.

The US Food and Drug Administration is looking more closely at an ovarian cancer test from Laboratory Corporation of America after deciding that the existing data did not support the test’s commercial use.

 
The FDA Office of In Vitro Device Evaluation and Safety has asked Labcorp to discuss with the agency the utility of its OvaSure Yale test, after it learned that the performance characteristics of the test were based on research that is not representative of the intended pool of patients.
 
In a letter to Labcorp dated August 7, OIVD Director Steve Gutman wrote that the scientific community would not view the study as sufficient to establish performance characteristics for high-risk women who may have ovarian cancer.
 
“Based on our review of your promotional materials and the research,” Gutman wrote, “… we believe you are offering a high risk test that has not received adequate clinical validation, and may harm the public health.” Gutman told Labcorp that OIVD would like to talk to the company about offering the test, and any other strategies the company may have for validating the test.

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21 Aug 08 Can Google and LabCorp do this?

Here’s something really interesting. A few weeks ago LabCorp employees started posting comments on this site in support and defense of the company and employees. Shortly thereafter, www.labcorpsucks.com almost dissappeared from the Google search results. There does not appear to be a reasonable explanation for this to happen, as this site has lots of visits from dissatisfied LabCorp patients and is still highly ranked in Yahoo and MSN. I just saw an article in the Medical Quack Blog that may provide some answers (or at least raise some suspicion). It is about the business relationship between Google and LabCorp. I would not put it past LabCorp executives to ask Google to punish this website, but it is hard for me to believe that Google would actually play along with LabCorp and lower the search value of a website based on their own economic interests.

Last month several Genomics companies received warning letters from the State of California and were told they needed to be licensed.  23andMe, which is an offshoot of Google may have a potential solution on the dilemma of the licensing issue with working with LabCorp,  one of the largest labs in the US. 

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Although 23andMe is keeping mum on which contract laboratory it is using to conduct its DTC genomic testing services, GenomeWeb Daily News has learned that Laboratory Corporation of America is providing the necessary genotyping services for the personal genomics company. “I can confirm that we are doing lab work for 23andMe,” Eric Lindblom, LabCorp’s senior vice president for investor and media relations, told GWDN.

…You can also read more about the National Genetics Institute, a subsidiary of LabCorp. LabCorp already has a pretty large stake invested in the genomics business.

Lindblom also noted that LabCorp is CLIA licensed in California and New York, the two states that recently warned 23andMe, along with several other personal genomics firms, to stop marketing genetic tests directly to consumers. One of the reasons cited by regulators was that the consumer genomics firms were not licensed in these states to provide laboratory services.

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