Cancer Misdiagnosis or Failure to Diagnose
Cancer is a leading cause of death in every country in the world and affects more people each year. It is a serious disease that can develop anywhere in the body and spread to other body parts. Cancer starts when abnormal cells start to grow out of control and overtake healthy, normal cells. Without healthy cells, your body will not work the way it should, and the illness becomes serious.
Cancer misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can lead to devastating results for patients. You may lose out on the chance to receive less invasive treatment and could be forced into more aggressive remedies because your doctor did not diagnose you quickly enough. Their carelessness can lead to your untimely death. When you face this kind of situation, you need experienced guidance from a cancer misdiagnosis attorney at Lopez McHugh LLP.
How Do Doctors Misdiagnose Cancer?
In many cases, cancer can be treated successfully if it is diagnosed in time, and those who have it can live full lives after defeating the disease. However, if left undiagnosed or untreated, cancer will eventually lead to a patient’s death. When your physician fails to diagnose or delays your cancer diagnosis, it means you do not get the treatment you need when you need it, allowing your condition to progress to a point where it cannot be treated.
Finding out you have cancer after you were told you did not can be devastating news. However, correctly diagnosing cancer can be very difficult because some types of cancer are more difficult to find than others. Misdiagnosis can occur when doctors fail to run the appropriate diagnostic tests to find the right type of cancer.
Many types of cancer can be easily detected by routine procedures. Some of the most common types of tests used to identify cancer include:
- Colonoscopy: This is an exam used to detect any changes or abnormalities in the large intestine (colon) and rectum which indicate colon cancer and other conditions.
- Chest X-rays: To detect lung cancer, a chest X-ray is often the first diagnostic test run. It is a noninvasive diagnostic test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions.
- Fecal occult blood tests: The FOBT is a lab test used to check stool samples for hidden blood. Hidden blood in the stool may indicate colon cancer or polyps in the colon and rectum.
- Mammograms and manual breast examinations: These tests detect breast cancer in females and males. A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast tissue used to look for early signs of breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early.
- PAP smears: A PAP smear can be used to detect cervical cancer. The test involves taking a small sample of cells from the cervix and testing them for cancer cells.
- Prostate exam: Prostate exams can help detect prostate cancer. The procedure usually involves a digital rectal exam and a test for prostate-specific antigen levels.
When healthcare providers fail to perform these and other critical tests, or when they delay these tests for whatever reason, it may amount to medical negligence. Tests performed in a timely manner but not evaluated correctly constitute a potential claim of medical negligence.
Certain types of cancers can mimic each other or other medical conditions, and doctors who do not confirm what type of cancer you have before treating it may be doing more harm than good. This improper treatment for misdiagnosed cancers can have devastating, even deadly, results and amount to medical negligence.
What To Do If It Happens To You
If you feel your doctor has misdiagnosed your cancer, or any other illness, seeking a second opinion is always a good idea. A few situations in which you should get a second opinion include:
- Your current doctor does not know the type or extent of your cancer.
- You think your doctor is not taking your cancer diagnosis seriously.
- Your form of cancer is rare and requires a more experienced oncologist.
- You have researched and found that other treatments may be available that your doctor does not want to pursue.
Do not be afraid to speak openly to every doctor you interact with, including the doctor who you may feel has misdiagnosed you. Keep copies of all of your medical records, including any pathology results and reports, and share those with a doctor who may be able to diagnose you correctly.
Can You File a Lawsuit Against Your Doctor for Medical Negligence?
If you have reason to believe your doctor failed to diagnose your cancer due to medical negligence, you may be able to pursue a claim against them. You could file against their medical malpractice insurance, but these companies will use teams of lawyers to fight back and deny liability. You will likely have to pursue a medical negligence lawsuit to recover financial compensation for the damage you suffered.
While you are battling such a devastating disease, you do not need to add fighting with insurance companies to your list of worries. When you contact Lopez McHugh LLP, we can schedule a free consultation with a cancer misdiagnosis attorney who will assess your circumstances and explain your legal rights.
We will evaluate your case and work tirelessly for you if you decide to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. A misdiagnosis puts you at risk of a shortened life filled with unnecessary treatments and pain. You deserve a chance to seek financial relief to make your life more comfortable.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider causes you injury or death through their negligent actions or failure to act. Failure to diagnose or a misdiagnosis falls under this definition, along with failure to recognize symptoms or order proper testing.
Doctors may have an unconscious bias for any number of reasons that could lead to them misreading or ignoring diagnostic test results (or failing to order them in the first place). Proving they committed medical negligence can be extremely difficult and requires a thorough examination of the facts, along with expert testimony from other physicians about the accepted standard of care for your condition.
Elements of a Medical Malpractice Case
To successfully prove medical negligence or medical malpractice, you and your cancer misdiagnosis lawyer must be able to show that your case meets the following criteria:
- Duty of care: You must show that you had a patient-doctor relationship with the provider, such that they owed you a specific duty of care.
- Breach of the standard of care: Healthcare providers must follow the accepted standard of care, so patients receive quality care for their illness or injury. When they fail to, and patients suffer injury or a worsening of their condition, this establishes negligence.
- Causation: This establishes a direct link between the provider’s negligent actions and the patient’s injury or illness. You must show that your condition is not the result of any other cause but is a foreseeable consequence of the negligence.
- Injury: You must show proof that the negligent and wrongful acts of the defendant caused you significant physical harm which aligns with the first three elements.
A cancer diagnosis, especially when it is given late due to medical negligence, does not leave you with a lot of time to file a claim. The law may allow for even less time. Pennsylvania medical negligence claims must be filed within two years from the date you discovered the mistake. If you wait too long to file your claim, you could lose your chance for compensation forever.
You must also file a Certificate of Merit with your claim. This is a written statement from a medical professional stating that a reasonable probability exists that the care, skill, or knowledge exhibited by your healthcare provider was outside accepted professional standards. It should also include confirmation that the negligence likely caused you harm.
Potential Compensation from a Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim
Prompted by lobbyists for the medical industry, the Pennsylvania legislature has passed laws making it difficult for victims of medical negligence to receive compensation. The odds are stacked against you to protect hospitals, medical facilities, and doctors, but a skilled and experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney can help.
At Lopez McHugh LLP, we tenaciously represent injured patients to help them recover the financial damages they are due, such as:
Healthcare and Medical Bills
Naturally, a large financial portion of your medical negligence claim will be the additional healthcare bills you will unexpectedly face when you have a cancer misdiagnosis. You may need experimental or aggressive treatment, have long hospital stays, and/or need in-home nursing care. If your preexisting conditions are worsened by your cancer or its treatment, you deserve to see those bills reimbursed.
You can also claim travel costs, medications, and home services you can no longer perform while you are undergoing treatment. If you become disabled or require full-time care, the future costs for the rest of your recovery or until your death should be included in your damage claims.
Diminished Quality of Life
The non-economic effects on your life must also be taken into account. Your shock, embarrassment, fear, sense of isolation, and grief will have a tremendous impact on your ability to face your misdiagnosis and treatment. The loss of enjoyment of life, inability to participate in your hobbies or reach your goals, and general depression you may face should all be considered as subjective expenses that need compensation.
Your emotional trauma is valid and must be repaid.
Cancer treatments are extremely hard on your body. With chemotherapy, you can face two weeks of debilitating nausea and fatigue after treatment. Just when you begin to feel better, you must start the process over again. If you require surgery, you may be off your feet for days at a time.
It is nearly impossible to maintain your work schedule while facing these challenges. Your lost income, benefits, insurance payments, vacation time, and retirement benefits must be included in the economic damages you claim in your medical malpractice case. These quantifiable costs are part of what is needed to make you whole financially.
Speak With Our Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers Today
If you were diagnosed with cancer in the Philadelphia area and suspect your diagnosis was delayed or botched, you may be able to file a medical malpractice claim. We know you are likely confused, worried, and overwhelmed by what the future may hold for you. Our compassionate and highly-skilled attorneys will listen to your story and work to build the strongest case possible for your unique situation.
We understand the uncertainty you are facing and stand ready to help you through this difficult time. Contact the experienced cancer misdiagnosis lawyers at Lopez McHugh LLP immediately for a free consultation to discuss your claim today.