Missed and Delayed Cancer Diagnoses

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The most devastating news a patient can receive from their doctor is that they have advanced cancer. Even more devastating would be learning that the cancer should have been discovered much earlier, and if it had been the prognosis would have been more favorable. It will be an actionable case of medical malpractice if this failure to recognize the cancer earlier was due solely to the negligence of a healthcare provider.

Importance of Early Detection for Cancer Patients

Early detection of cancer is important because when abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat and stop the spread. Early diagnoses help patients plan ahead while they are still able to make crucial decisions on their medical. It also gives them time to handle any critical legal or financial matters related to the treatment.

Obtaining an early and accurate diagnosis results in a higher quality of life, less stress for family care partners, more time to treasure the present, and increased time for future planning. When cancer care is delayed, there is a much lower chance of survival. If the patient does survive, they generally experience greater problems associated with treatment and higher costs of care.

Case Study: Delayed Diagnosis of Metastatic Breast Cancer

There are many reasons why sometimes the existence of cancer or the suspicion of the presence of cancer is missed by healthcare providers. In one case, a woman went for her annual mammogram and was told everything was fine. A year later at a subsequent screening, it was discovered she had advanced metastatic breast cancer.

In reviewing the earlier mammogram, it was evident that the radiologist failed to recognize the early presence of the cancer. This failure by the radiologist was clearly malpractice. Fortunately, the woman survived. However, she had much more aggressive treatment, including the removal of her breasts, than would have been necessary if the cancer was treated a year earlier.

Case Study: Wrongful Death Caused by Missed Diagnosis

In another case, a 56-year-old man when to an Urgent Care facility complaining of pain in his neck. The treating physician assistant noticed a small lump in the throat and ordered an x-ray which indicated a suspicious mass and recommended further diagnostic testing.

Unfortunately, the patient was never informed of this finding and the facility failed to follow-up with the patient to see that further evaluation and testing were conducted. The patient was left with a false sense of security that there was no significant problem.

Eight months later at another examination, the treating doctor did notice the condition and recommended further evaluation, which resulted in one year of aggressive treatment since the cancer had then spread from the throat to other parts of his body. In this case, the patient eventually died from the cancer. Had the cancer been discovered 8 months earlier, his chances of survival would have been much greater.

Call a Lawyer Today

Any missed diagnosis essentially robs the patient of precious time of life. It also has an extended effect on the family and friends of the patient. Losses could be avoided if the treating providers perform their sworn duties – First Do No Harm. If you or a loved one suffered due to a missed diagnosis, call a lawyer from Schiller & Hamilton today.

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