In recent years, the number of people suing for medical malpractice over a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis has risen considerably. The plaintiffs in these cases complain that they were harmed by the missed diagnosis and that their treatment outcomes would have been better if they had been diagnosed with cancer earlier. The doctors facing these lawsuits are under pressure to show that they did the right things in regards to these patients’ medical conditions.
According to data from the American Cancer Society, roughly 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer annually. Early diagnosis of cancer is one of the most important factors in the effective treatment of the disease. Unfortunately, many people are diagnosed after the cancer reaches an advanced stage. Almost half of cancer patients are diagnosed in an advanced stage in the illness, which considerably reduces their chances of survival.
The failure to diagnose cancer in a timely manner can be catastrophic for a person and their family. In addition to the preventable pain and suffering one may endure, it can result in the loss of life of a spouse, parent or child. If the medical professional failed to provide appropriate care, patients and families may be entitled to legal recourse through a medical malpractice lawsuit.
There are many reasons why doctors may misdiagnose a cancer case. The initial symptoms of cancer mimic those of many other illnesses. Without the use of expensive testing, it can be difficult for a doctor to determine whether the symptoms experienced indicate cancer or some other medical condition. The costs of these tests makes them more likely to be a last resort after all other options have been eliminated.
Another reason that a cancer diagnosis may be made in the later stages of the disease is that the cost of medical care leads many people to delay going to the doctor until their symptoms can no longer be ignored. While it is recommended that all adults go to their doctor every year for a full examination, many people do not in order to save money. If a person has a family history of cancer, regular screening becomes even more important.
Most of the medical malpractice cases related to a missed cancer diagnosis accuse the doctors of incorrectly evaluating the symptoms experienced as being unrelated to cancer or failing to appropriately screen for cancer. If these patients can prove that a medical practitioner did not follow the generally accepted medical standards of care, they stand a good chance of winning their malpractice case.