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Failure to Diagnose Lung Cancer

failure to diagnose

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 220,000 new cases of lung cancer are diagnosed each year. Despite a known list of common symptoms and risk factors, lung cancer goes undiagnosed far too often. Lung cancer is usually curable if it is diagnosed early (in stages I or II), but failure to diagnose lung cancer can cause the cancer to advance to stages III or IV, leading to more invasive (and expensive) treatment, decreased quality of life and even death.

Failure to diagnose lung cancer lawsuits seek justice and financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, pecuniary losses and more. If your family is suffering because of a failure to diagnose lung cancer, contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who can evaluate your claim and discuss your legal rights.

Failure to diagnose lung cancer

Non-small cell lung cancer makes-up 80 percent of lung cancers. The types of tumors associated with non-small cell lung cancer are diagnosed based on how the cells look under a microscope after a biopsy. Because diagnosis requires a biopsy ordered by a family physician and the inspection of cells by a radiologist, it is most often a family physician or radiologist who are responsible for a delayed diagnosis of lung cancer.

When a patient describes symptoms and has risk factors associated with lung cancer, the primary care physician should order a chest x-ray (both PA and Lateral) plus laboratory studies (including alkaline phosphatase, serum calcium, and liver function tests) and pulmonary function tests.

  • Lung cancer symptoms:

o   Chest pain that increases in severity with deep breathing

o   A cough that won’t go away

o   Coughing up blood

o   Unexplained weight loss / loss of appetite

o   New onset of wheezing or difficulty breathing

o   Recurring pneumonia or bronchitis

o   Hoarseness

  • Lung cancer risk factors:

o   Smoking

o   Family history of lung cancer

o   Jobs that involve exposure to asbestos, chromium, arsenic, diesel exhaust and other toxins.

Medical negligence may have occurred if:

  • A family doctor fails to order follow up tests when a patient describes these symptoms especially if they are combined with risk factors.
  • The radiologist fails to recognize and/or comment on an abnormality that appears on a chest x-ray. In fact, 25 percent of lung cancers are missed when the first x-ray is read.
  • The doctor who ordered the x-ray receives a report of an abnormality but fails to read it or understand the seriousness of the abnormality which means a biopsy is never ordered.
  • The doctor reviews the x-ray report but fails to communicate the potentially troubling results to the patient.
  • The health care team fails to properly track an abnormality found in an x-ray. This typically happens because a “solitary pulmonary nodule” is found but the patient has no other notable symptoms or risk factors. The generally accepted standard of care is that a “solitary pulmonary nodule” must be considered cancerous until proven otherwise.

The Seattle personal injury attorneys at Morrow Kidman Tinker Macey-Cushman, PLLC have years of experience representing families harmed by medical malpractice and other types of negligence. We seek justice for patients who have been harmed by preventable accidents and medical errors including birth injuries, hospital-acquired infections, diagnostic errors, prescription drug injuries and wrongful death in Seattle and across Washington State. There are no fees or expenses to file a personal injury case as we only receive payment if we recover damages on your behalf. Do not delay; personal injury claims come with a Statute of Limitations, which means they must be filed within a certain time frame of the injury.

Call us now at 206-842-1000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with one of our compassionate, experienced attorneys.