Mistakes by Albufeira laboratory led to father and grandfather living child sex abuse nightmare

Albufeira laboratory Gnóstica has been condemned to pay €272,000 to a family whose lives it turned upside down due to what judges have dubbed a “censurable error”.

The technician responsible for the error, however, has been acquitted, reports national tabloid Correio da Manhã – stressing that a reaction from Gnóstica, which had been appealing a condemnation from an earlier court, has not been forthcoming.

The story goes back almost eight years and involves a child, aged three at the time, who was being tested for a throat infection.

Due to a corrupted test, “vestiges of semen” were detected as having been present in the child’s mouth, explains CM – something that immediately prompted a police investigation on suspicion that the boy had been sexually abused.

The resulting furore put the family through “an authentic nightmare”, even dividing the parents, said CM.

PJ police then discovered the truth: Gnóstica’s testing had taken place on a reused glass slide. The “vestiges of sperm” came from a “previous test”.

“We accept that in a large quantity of medical exams there can be a simple error. People are not perfect. They make mistakes”, said Évora appeal court judges in their ruling dated March 9. “But this error is censurable. It is an act that carries blame”.

The so-far unnamed parents had been requesting €750,000 in damages, but the appeal court upheld the earlier court ruling, setting damages at €272,000.

As CM explains, glass slides for use in laboratories cost around 18 cêntimos at the time of the mistake.

The Resident has tried various numbers found online for Gnóstica’s laboratory in Albufeira without success.

As CM’s story explains, the problem surrounding the little boy’s need for specialised tests stemmed from an operation he had in 2008 which left him “vulnerable to infections”.

In May of 2009, he “showed signs of fever, coughing and expectoration” which led his family to seeing a consultation at Albufeira health centre.

The doctor at the health centre decided tests should be undertaken, and it was at this point that “liquid material” from the child’s mouth was taken for testing.

It was not until much later that PJ police determined that the glass slide used for analysing liquid from the child’s mouth also contained liquid from a previous test involving spermatozoids.

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