Hospital Lab has No Duty to Send Test Results to Patient But Must Send to Ordering Physician

The pregnant plaintiff was sent by her obstetrician for genetic testing to the hospital’s clinical lab. Test results indicating that the plaintiff was a carrier for cystic fibrosis were sent to the obstetrician but were never communicated to the plaintiff, who subsequently gave birth to a baby with cystic fibrosis. The plaintiff and her husband sued the hospital, alleging the lab negligently failed to give them the test results.


The California Appellate court held that a hospital providing clinical laboratory services to a patient on the orders of the patient’s physician owes no duty to ensure that test results are received by the patient, merely to ensure that the ordering physician receives the results. The relevant California statutes establish a standard protocol that clinical laboratory reports are made to the physician who ordered the test, not to the patient for whom the test was ultimately performed. And, providing test results directly to the patient is statutorily impermissible and would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. See: Walker v. Sonora Regional Medical Center, 2012 WL 90089, 12 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 618 (Cal.App. 5 Dist. Jan 12, 2012) (not designated for publication).