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Monday, Jan 16, 2017
Three Important Aspects of Misdiagnosis of Cancer That You Need to Know
Posted by Rachel Oliver of

Cancer misdiagnosis is more common than we assume. Several skilled doctors can and do make errors in diagnosis, even with state-of-the-art equipment and reasonable care. A large number of lawsuits arise from misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of life-threatening medical conditions, like cancer.

In legal terms, failure to diagnose cancer refers to a situation when a medical professional fails to identify and treat cancer in a patient. This typically indicates that the patient exhibited evident symptoms of cancer, and should have been diagnosed with cancer, but wasn't.

For a lot of patients, misdiagnosis of cancer can have devastating outcomes. It can lead to incorrect, delayed, or no treatment, and a patient's condition can become much worse, which may lead to death.

Read on to learn crucial information about cancer misdiagnosis and medical malpractice laws related to it.

1. Negligence When Conducting Diagnostic Tests

Cancer symptoms often seem similar to those of other diseases. This means that people tend to ignore the early indicators and delay consulting the doctor. In addition to this, there are multiple tests to diagnose the disease, which makes it difficult to detect the problem if any one of them is missed.

Cancer isn't always about a lump or a mass developed in the body. In fact, several blood and specimen tests are conducted to make the final call. Once you have been prescribed to take the diagnostic tests for cancer, you should research on the purpose and procedure of all the tests.

These include:

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC): CBC tests are conducted on a blood sample to check the levels of healthy cells in your blood and to detect the presence of any infected/deformed cells in your bloodstream. It can help the diagnostician to determine whether or not you have blood cancer, but may not rule out the presence of other types of cancers.
  • Blood Protein Testing: Blood samples also help detect some types of cancers that may cause the level of immune proteins to rise in your blood. Blood protein testing looks for the presence of high levels of these proteins. This test is not definitive and requires further testing to confirm cancer. It may not detect every kind of cancer.
  • Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy: Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy are conducted to examine the growth and function of blood cells in the bone marrow. These tests help doctors diagnose medical conditions like leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, stem cell disorders, and other rare genetic disorders.
  • Tumor Marker Tests: This test is used to detect the presence of specific chemicals produced by tumor cells that wouldn't typically be present in your blood. However, it is important that your body produces several of those chemicals even without tumor. The levels of the chemicals can be high or low for reasons other than cancer.

2. Risk of Sustaining More Harm During Different Cancer Stages

Mammograms, X-Rays, CT scans, magnetic resonance images (MRIs), and blood/specimen tests are some of the common procedures that allow physicians to detect cancer at an early stage and treat it successfully.

Stages of cancer are closely related to the size and the severity of the original tumor and the extent of its presence throughout the patient's body. Misdiagnosis of cancer or delay in diagnosis can make a huge difference in the patient's condition. Because of multiple reasons, in many cases, a biopsy or other invasive examination procedures fail to give indicative results and may remain untreated.

Basing his opinion on his experience, a renowned Tampa medical malpractice lawyer said, "We have seen several cases where doctors do not diagnose cancer because they did not maintain an appropriate level of care. As a result, the cancer will remain undetected and untreated until it grows and spreads throughout the body, which will require severe treatment. Prior understanding of the symptoms and diagnostic procedures of the disease can help the patient to avoid the risk of deterioration of his/her health."

3. Burden of Proof in Malpractice Lawsuit

Several instances of negligence can take place during cancer treatment. You need to be cautious with the medical procedures and medication administered to you. Sometimes, the disease worsens because doctors take weeks or months to prescribe the appropriate medical treatment or suggest a life-saving surgery to remove the cancer. These are legitimate reasons to file a case against the healthcare setup for medical negligence.

If your case includes cancer misdiagnosis, and you plan to file a lawsuit against the medical provider, then you should speak with an experienced cancer misdiagnosis lawyer as soon as possible.

Proving medical negligence in cancer misdiagnosis lawsuits can be tricky. This is because there are several types of cancers, and your symptoms could be common to other illnesses as well. Also, if the case goes to trial, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. You need to prove that the medical practitioner did not provide an adequate standard of care to you. During the courtroom trial, the medical professional can argue that he/she diagnosed you with one of the other diseases. Your lawyer can help determine if you have a strong case by collecting preliminary data and conducting the medical and legal research needed for a convincing legal strategy.

Timely detection and initiation of treatment is crucial for cancer patients. Misdiagnosis and delay in medication administration can even prove to be fatal. Several people have lost their lives because of slack medical care provided to them. Reporting a case against physicians who are responsible for worsening a patient's condition can help save more lives.

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