Receiving the wrong diagnosis can be extremely detrimental – especially with deadly diseases like cancer. Cancer misdiagnosis, particularly a failure to diagnose cancer, can delay potentially life-saving treatments and lead to premature death, along with painful and debilitating side effects. People who receive a wrong cancer diagnosis, or whose cancer diagnosis comes later than it should have, may have recourse to seek compensation for treatments, lost income, and other expenses related to the missed or delayed diagnosis.
Once Metastasized, Cancer Can Be Much Harder To Treat
As most of us know, when and how cancer is diagnosed plays heavily into chances of survival. You won’t believe how often doctors misdiagnose these 5 cancers:
- Lymphoma – According to research conducted by the National Coalition on Health Care and Best Doctors, physicians in the U.S. believe that lymphoma is “the most misdiagnosed cancer,” Boston Magazine reported.
- Breast Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Skin Cancers
Misdiagnosis or missed diagnoses can occur for any number of reasons. It is estimated that approximately 10 to 20 percent of all cases of cancer are misdiagnosed. One study found that about 28 percent of the mistakes made out of 583 cases were life threatening or life altering.
The following are frequently reported types of negligence by doctors in misdiagnosed cancer cases:
- Failing to recognize common symptoms of cancer
- Failing to order appropriate testing, including x-rays, CT scans or MRI’s
- Failing to properly analyze test results or misreading test results
- Failing to identify an obvious lump during breast examination
- Failing to follow-up with the patient or with test results
- Failing to order a biopsy or future tests
- Misdiagnosing a tumor as benign
Is Misdiagnosis Of Cancer Considered To Be Malpractice?
Because many cancers are much easier to cure when they are detected early, a cancer misdiagnosis may result in delayed treatment, causing serious injury or death. Individuals harmed by a cancer misdiagnosis can sue for medical malpractice and seek damages for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Another problem may be in the opposite direction, informing a patient that they have cancer when in fact they do not. This can lead to having chemotherapy and even the removal of organs. Both types of patients can be victims of malpractice.
Proving Medical Malpractice Based On Diagnostic Errors
The law does not hold doctors legally responsible for all diagnostic errors. Instead, patients usually must prove three things in order to prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit based on a wrong diagnosis. Was the doctor negligent? Were there errors in diagnostic tests? And, did the misdiagnosis harm the patient? The patient must prove that the doctor’s negligent misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis caused the patient’s condition to progress beyond where it normally would have — had the correct diagnosis been made in a timely manner — and that this progression had a negative impact upon treatment. This is a difficult area, however, as seeking immediate help is important. Be sure and get a second opinion. And if it differs, get a third opinion. If after all the new testing, you still feel you were misdiagnosed, it is time to talk to an attorney. Sometimes a patient can show harm even if the condition can still be treated. For example, with some cancers a delay in treatment increases the risk of recurrence. In the rare case that a doctor diagnoses a patient with a condition or illness that the patient does not have, the patient may also be able to prove harm in the form of anxiety, stress, medical problems, and expenses due to unnecessary treatment.
Perhaps more than any other area of personal injury law, medical malpractice claims require the assistance of competent counsel. These types of claims can be incredibly complex from both a legal and a medical standpoint.
Contact (859-746-0500) Michael O’Hara, PLLC for a Consultation
About Michael A. O’Hara, PLLC
When you have to deal with the justice system – whether related to a civil or criminal matter – you need more than the truth on your side. You need a skilled attorney who can employ sound legal strategies to produce the results you are hoping for. I am attorney Michael A. O’Hara, and I am licensed to practice in Kentucky and Ohio at the state level, as well as in Federal District Court and the Federal Court of Claims. I have been representing clients in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati area since 1994.