Theranos, the revolutionary blood testing company founded by Stanford dropout and Silicon Valley wonder Elizabeth Holmes, is having a bad year. The company is under investigation for securities fraud, in June its pharmacy chain partner Walgreens broke ties and shut down all of its Theranos blood draw centers, Holmes has been barred from owning or operating a blood lab for the next two years, and lawsuits abound.
The latest claim comes from a patient who says that his faulty Theranos blood draw results contributed to his having a heart attack. The plaintiff, going by RC, seeks class action status for his lawsuit filed in federal court in Arizona.
According to Tech Crunch, RC’s case is just one of at least nine civil suits Theranos now faces. The company’s technology was going to revolutionize the way that blood is drawn and tested, but it seems that the enthusiasm about Theranos was premature.
Theranos partnered with Walgreens pharmacies to provide blood testing services using its proprietary Edison system. Supposedly one drop of blood could reveal hundreds of different diseases, so the pharmacy chain decided to create Theranos centers in about 40 stores across the country.
The Edison method, the one invented by Elizabeth Holmes, takes a lot less blood than traditional blood draws. Only one drop was supposed to reveal hundreds of diseases. But, it turns out that the Edison method also gives a lot less accurate results than traditional blood draws.
In his lawsuit, the plaintiff RC says that his doctor told him to monitor his blood and made recommendations based on the plaintiff’s Walgreens Theranos test results. But one month later the plaintiff had a heart attack and found himself in the hospital. There, it became apparent that the blood test results he gave his doctor and that were obtained from a Walgreens Theranos center were incorrect. Now RC is saying that Theranos contributed to his heart attack by providing faulty results that misled him about what actions were necessary.
RC’s claim has some support — the plaintiff’s tests were later voided along with those of thousands of other patients who used the Edison method in 2014 and 2015 at Walgreens. Theranos voided the tests as part of an effort to comply with the requirements of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and Elizabeth Holmes was just barred by CMS from owning or operating a blood lab for the next two years.
As for RC, he is seeking class action status, hoping his suit will be a representative claim for others who were injured by the Theranos blood draws. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
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