Cancer Misdiagnosis

How Cancer Gets Misdiagnosed

Every year, more than one-and-a-half million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the United States, and according to the American Cancer Association, each year our country sees over half-a-million deaths from cancer. The good news is that cancer detection and treatment methods are constantly improving and cancer death rates are declining. The bad news is that, despite improved medical technology, rates of cancer misdiagnosis continue to be alarmingly high. The BMJ Quality and Safety journal estimates that cancer misdiagnosis rates may be as high as 28%.

“Cancer” is a term that actually covers more than 100 types of diseases that result from abnormal cells dividing uncontrollably in the body. Some of these pose a greater danger of death than others; but in virtually all cases, early detection is the most important key to survival. When a doctor misdiagnoses cancer in a patient, the result is delayed treatment—and that costs the patient dearly, since treatment of cancer after a misdiagnosis is more complex and more expensive, and has a reduced chance of success.

Even with the best medical care, sometimes cancer gets misdiagnosed. Symptoms may mimic those of other diseases; tests are not foolproof; interpretation of results is subjective; sometimes no symptoms present themselves at all. In short, misdiagnosis is not always the result of medical negligence or malpractice. But oftentimes it is. Misdiagnosis can result when:

  • A physician fails to respond to a patient’s complaint of symptoms by ordering the appropriate tests;
  • After testing, the physician fails to follow-up on lab recommendations or make a timely referral to an appropriate specialist;
  • A physician, radiologist, or other healthcare professional fails to properly interpret test results;
  • A physician, technician, or other healthcare professional fails to follow proper procedures for collecting and preserving samples; or
  • Medical equipment or procedures are defective, failing to provide accurate results to diagnosing healthcare professionals.

When any of these things happens, you are the victim of medical malpractice and the result may be the failure to properly diagnose your cancer—costing you time and money, and literally risking your life.

The Costs and Responsibilities of Cancer Misdiagnosis

The fact that your cancer was misdiagnosed does not necessarily mean that you will have a successful legal claim against a doctor, healthcare professional, or facility. In order to determine that medical negligence or malpractice has caused your cancer misdiagnosis, four things will need to be proven:

  • That a doctor-patient relationship existed between you and the physician who should have diagnosed the cancer;
  • That the physician or other healthcare professional failed to meet the accepted standard of care in your case;
  • That this negligence caused your injury; and
  • That this injury resulted in specific damages to you.

Proving these necessary elements of a cancer misdiagnosis case is no easy task. The person(s)/institution(s) responsible for causing you harm will have insurance companies and lawyers who work hard to prove that they are without fault, or that your injuries deserve less compensation than is fair. Getting at the facts of the case will require professionals like physicians, nurses, radiologists, and pathologists—all part of the team that will be assembled by your experienced cancer misdiagnosis attorney. And your attorney will have to work quickly, since the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania only allows two years from the time you knew (or should have known) about the misdiagnosis for you to bring your lawsuit.

Your medical malpractice attorney cannot undo the devastating effects of a missed cancer diagnosis. But having an experienced and competent medical malpractice lawyer on your side can make all the difference in the world when it comes to getting you the compensation you will need to cover your past and future medical bills; the costs of medications, durable medical equipment, and necessary modifications to your home; nursing care for yourself and childcare for your children; lost wages and future earnings; as well as your pain, suffering, and mental anguish.

We’re Here to Help

The Needle Law P.C. Law Firm is a plaintiff’s attorney. That means we have never represented an insurance company—and we never will. Our team of medical malpractice lawyers is dedicated to placing their knowledge and experience at the service of people like you who have been harmed and getting you the compensation you deserve. If you are the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis, call us right away. We’re here to help.