What To Do With a Cancer Misdiagnosis
November 12, 2018
While cancer is still a deadly disease, improved diagnostic techniques and innovative treatments are improving survival rates and giving hope to many patients and their families. Because early detection and treatment are crucial to long-term survival, a cancer misdiagnosis can make the difference between life and death.
How prevalent is cancer misdiagnosis? In a 2015 study conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, 20% of patients who went to the clinic for a second opinion had been previously misdiagnosed. The study cited research showing that diagnostic errors contribute to approximately 10% of patient deaths and account for 6-17% of adverse events in hospitals.
Lung, breast and colorectal cancer are most commonly misdiagnosed, often because the physician failed to order a biopsy after an abnormal or suspicious test result. While breast and colorectal cancer have age-based screening guidelines, factors such as genetic predisposition, family history or a previous cancer diagnosis can require earlier or more frequent screening.
What is Medical Negligence?
Negligence is a form of medical malpractice that usually applies to a physician who has failed to meet a certain standard of care. That standard is typically defined by the law, a professional organization or what is considered to be common practice in a doctor’s area of specialization. Sometimes a physician’s conduct is measured against the actions of a “reasonable person” in a similar position. If a doctor or other medical practitioner has failed to meet the established standard of care, there may be a case for negligence.
To prove negligence, there must be evidence that the physician acted in a negligent manner that resulted in harm to the patient. With a cancer misdiagnosis, there are often consequences that would not have occurred if the correct diagnosis had been made earlier. These might include preventable surgeries and treatments, disease progression and death. There may also be economic losses, such as lost wages and medical and rehabilitation expenses.
Common Types of Negligence
Here are some common types of mistakes that can result in a cancer misdiagnosis:
- Failing to prescribe standard screenings per national age-based recommendations, such as routine colonoscopies for patients 50 years and older.
- Failing to pursue patient complaints and symptoms that could indicate a possible diagnosis of cancer.
- Neglecting to perform further testing, such as a biopsy, for symptoms or abnormal cancer screening results.
- Failing to refer a patient to an appropriate cancer specialist, such as a gynecologic oncologist for suspected cervical cancer.
- Failure to disclose test results with the patient, whether they are normal, suspicious or abnormal.
- Failing to take into account a patient’s previous diagnoses, genetic testing, medical and family history.
“A misdiagnosis can cause a patient to undergo unnecessary procedures or miss out on potentially life-saving treatment,” said Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “If the misdiagnosis was caused by negligence, your physician should be held accountable for the consequences you and your family suffered as a result.”
Medical malpractice law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple. If you or a loved one is ill or disabled as a result of negligence by a medical practitioner or facility, call us immediately. Our knowledgeable team of medical malpractice lawyers will fight to win the compensation you and your family deserve.
Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free no-obligation consultation.