Cancer is a diagnosis that no patient wants to hear. However, early detection is an integral part of a successful recovery. Cancer misdiagnosis, therefore, is a dangerous health care error. For some patients, it could mean a lost opportunity for early treatment and a full recovery.
For other patients it could mean more aggressive chemotherapy treatments, more invasive surgeries, and even death. For still other patients, the misdiagnosis could be reversed—as in they are told that they have cancer when in actuality they do not. In these cases, unnecessary treatments and even surgeries have occurred.
How Does Cancer Misdiagnosis Happen?
There are several different types of errors that physicians can make that might lead to a cancer misdiagnosis:
- Missed diagnosis: These errors occur when a doctor issues a false bill of clean health. In this case, a patient with cancer might complain of symptoms that the doctor attributes to other “common” conditions such as menopause without doing further testing.
- Wrong diagnosis: In these cases, the physician might diagnose an incorrect condition, such as asthma, when the patient actually has lung cancer. This type of error would also apply to a patient who is diagnosed with cancer when in fact he or she is cancer-free.
- Delayed diagnosis: A doctor might eventually make the correct diagnosis after additional examinations, evaluations, or tests, but has lost precious treatment time in the process.
What Can I Do If I Received a Cancer Misdiagnosis?
If you feel that your doctor has improperly diagnosed you and it has resulted in additional medical bills, pain and suffering, or loss of quality or length of life, you may be entitled to compensation.
Medical malpractice suits are filed to help offset costs incurred as a result of negligent or incompetent medical care. There are several factors that affect your ability to file a claim of medical malpractice against your medical team, so enlist the help of a medical malpractice attorney to help you review your options.
Consider the following factors when reviewing your case:
- Was your pain and suffering, medical costs or diminished quality of life avoidable? Determining whether it is your misdiagnosis that caused your complications is the first step to building your malpractice case.
- Did your physician provide the appropriate standard of care? A key element to any malpractice suit is proving that the doctor was somehow negligent or incompetent. The medical community has established minimum standards of care, and it is important to understand whether your doctor breached those standards in any way. Would you have received better treatment from another doctor of similar credentials?
- Was the cancer misdiagnosis avoidable? In some cases, a doctor can do all the right things and still misdiagnose a condition. Medicine is not always an exact science, and each patient is different. Were your test results skewed for any reason? Did you neglect to tell the doctor any critical information during an examination? You will need to prove that all the signs were there and the doctor neglected to act appropriately to make an accurate diagnosis.
- Were diagnostic tests to blame for the cancer misdiagnosis? Faulty equipment or technician errors can result in a missed or incorrect diagnosis. In such cases there may be another party responsible for damages (technician, equipment manufacturer, or maintenance).
Call Snyder and Wenner, PC for Help
If you believe you were the victim of medical malpractice due to a cancer misdiagnosis that occurred in a Phoenix medical center or hospital, we can help (see our information on Abrazo Hospital and Scottsdale Healthcare). Call us at 602-224-0005 to set up a free consultation with an attorney at Snyder & Wenner.