Early detection and treatment of cancer can make a significant difference in survival rates. A negligent delay in diagnosis can take away the opportunity for early treatment, sometimes allowing enough time for cancer to become terminal.
A timely and accurate diagnosis can make a significant difference with many types of cancer, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, skin cancer and lung cancer. Negligent diagnosis errors or diagnosis delays on the part of medical providers are among the most harmful and costly types of medical malpractice.
If you suspect that you or a family member has been harmed by a medical misdiagnosis, The Tinker Law Firm, PLLC can help. Our respected and trusted medical malpractice attorneys can discuss your case in a free initial consultation. We’ll let you know how victims of medical misdiagnosis can protect their rights under Washington law. Call us today or fill out our online contact form for a free claim evaluation.
Many different medical providers may make mistakes that result in an incorrect diagnosis or allow cancer to go undiagnosed for too long. For example, a family doctor could fail to recognize symptoms of cancer during a routine physical or when a patient seeks treatment for an illness. In a situation such as this, the doctor may not order tests that could detect cancer and allow for a timely treatment. The doctor may mistakenly believe that the patient is suffering from a less serious condition, such as misdiagnosing colorectal cancer as hemorrhoids or ovarian cancer as a benign cyst.
Specialists may also make negligent errors that delay a cancer diagnosis or result in misdiagnosis. For example, a radiologist could misread a mammogram that indicates breast cancer, or a pathologist could fail to detect a malignant tumor when examining a biopsy sample.
Other health care providers may also make negligent errors that cause cancer to go undiagnosed. For example, a dentist may fail to alert a patient about evidence of oral cancer, or a dermatologist may not order testing of an irregular mole or another indicator of skin cancer.
The successful diagnosis of cancer and the timely initiation of treatment require more than the detection of cancer symptoms. Negligent errors in diagnosing cancer are still possible even if a patient reports symptoms without delay to a medical professional who accurately recognizes the possibility that the patient may have cancer.
Some common causes of a negligently delayed or inaccurate cancer diagnosis include:
Many cases of negligent cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis involve a series of system or process breakdowns.
In some cases, a cancer patient faces the same prognosis regardless of when the cancer is caught. In other situations, early detection and treatment may make a significant difference in the patient’s prognosis.
Early detection and treatment may prevent some forms of cancer from metastasizing, or spreading to other parts of the body. Some cancers – such as breast cancer, colorectal cancer and skin cancer – may respond well to early treatment, meaning that a timely and accurate diagnosis could significantly improve the patient’s chance at surviving the disease and living a longer, healthier life.
Some patients are diagnosed with cancer when they do not, in fact, have the disease. For example, a false positive on a mammogram could cause a woman to undergo an unneeded mastectomy, as well as dangerous and unpleasant radiation and chemotherapy treatments that were not necessary.
It is understandable for a patient or a patient’s family to have questions when cancer is not diagnosed until it has reached advanced stages or when symptoms or other indicators make it seem as if the disease should have been detected earlier. People in these situations often wonder whether something more could have been done to tackle the cancer earlier, allowing the patient to live longer and in better health.
The attorneys at The Tinker Law Firm, PLLC are experienced in reviewing cases that involve cancer misdiagnosis or delays in making a proper cancer diagnosis. Our lawyers work with doctors, nurses and other medical experts to review medical records for indicators of negligent errors in the process of diagnosing a patient with cancer. To talk to our team about your situation, call us today or fill out our online contact form for a free claim evaluation.