A doctor can make a number of different types of mistakes leading to a cancer misdiagnosis. For example, a doctor may incorrectly diagnose you with cancer even if you are not actually sick or if you are suffering from some other type of illness. A doctor might miss the symptoms that you have and fail to ever diagnose you with cancer that is affecting you. Finally, a doctor may miss the symptoms for a time or delay diagnosing you for some other reason, allowing more time for your cancer to grow and spread. All of these examples are examples of a cancer misdiagnosis.
2. How does a cancer misdiagnosis occur?
There are many possible mistakes that can lead to a cancer misdiagnosis. These include:
- A doctor failing to recognize signs or symptoms of cancer.
- A doctor failing to listen to you about symptoms you are experiencing that are indicators of cancer.
- A doctor failing to order appropriate tests or failing to refer you to a specialist when your symptoms would make referral or testing appropriate.
- A lab mixing up your test results with another patient’s.
- A doctor reading your test results wrong.
- A lab losing your results or delaying the processing of your medical tests.
In these examples, a medical provider has made a mistake in understanding your symptoms or in testing you, causing your cancer to go undetected or causing you to be diagnosed with a cancer you don’t have.
3. What are the consequences of a cancer misdiagnosis?
Cancer can often be treated if it is caught early. Unfortunately, the longer cancer is in the body, the more it can grow and spread. Once cancer has metastasized (spread) throughout the body, it is much more difficult to treat the disease. The bigger a tumor has grown, the more difficult it will be to eradicate it and the more invasive the treatments that will be needed.
A cancer misdiagnosis, therefore, can have devastating consequences. In fact, while some cancers may have a remission rate as high as 90 percent when caught early, the rate can drop to below 10 percent or even to zero when a doctor makes a delayed diagnosis.
People who are incorrectly diagnosed with cancer, on the other hand, may experience significant emotional distress. If treatment actually begins before the misdiagnosis is identified, patients may have invasive surgery or be dosed with powerful drugs they don’t need.
4. What does a medical prognosis mean?
When you are diagnosed with cancer, your doctors will tell you what the likely outcome of treatment will be and how your disease is likely to progress. The projected outcome of the treatment is the medical prognosis. A good prognosis means there is a good chance that your treatment will work and that the cancer will go into remission. A poor prognosis can mean that the cancer will not respond well to treatment. A delay in diagnosis or a failure to diagnose significantly increases the chances of a poor prognosis.
5. What kinds of treatments can I receive for my cancer?
Treatments vary depending upon the type of cancer and how fast it has grown or spread. Surgical removal of the cancer cells may be the first course of treatment for many types of cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation are also used to kill cancer cells. Drug therapy can be used to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells, and if your cancer has spread and is no longer curable, you may receive palliative treatment (pain management therapy and hospice care).
6. Can my doctor be held legally responsible for misdiagnosing my cancer?
Your doctor may be held responsible for misdiagnosing your cancer, as may the hospital or other health care provider who made mistakes in your care.
Whether your doctor will be held responsible depends on a number of factors. First, your doctor must have made an unacceptable mistake or provided unreasonably poor care. Doctors aren’t expected to be perfect, but they do need to be reasonably competent in performing their jobs. When a doctor misses symptoms that a competent doctor would have caught or otherwise makes a mistake that no reasonable doctor would have made, then your doctor could be held legally responsible for misdiagnosing the cancer.
7. What do I need to prove to obtain compensation from my doctor?
In addition to proving that your doctor made an unreasonable mistake or was incompetent, you’ll also need to show that you suffered harm as a result of the error.
Doctors often try to argue that the outcome would have been the same no matter what they had done. You need to prove that things were worse for you because of the error your doctor made. This may mean proving you had to undergo more treatment or that your medical prognosis was made worse because of your doctor’s errors. A Watertown medical malpractice lawyer at Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates can help you get the evidence you need to establish your claim.
8. What types of experts will I need to help me obtain compensation?
Medical malpractice claims usually hinge on technical details about the medical care you were provided and on how your doctor’s actions affected your medical prognosis. As such, you’ll need a medical expert to explain what went wrong. The expert needs to be someone who can explain complicated medical issues in layman’s terms to a jury in case your claim goes to court. At Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, LLP, our Watertown medical malpractice lawyers can put you in touch with the experts who can help you to make your case.
9. What if someone I loved died from cancer after being misdiagnosed?
It is not uncommon for a cancer misdiagnosis to result in death. If this occurs, surviving family members may file a wrongful death claim against the doctor or health care provider whose misdiagnosis led to the cancer-related death. Damages for a wrongful death claim include compensation for loss of services and conscious pain and suffering of the deceased. In addition, if the deceased was earning income and providing financial support, a lifetime of lost earnings can be compensated.
10. How can a medical malpractice lawyer help me after a cancer misdiagnosis?
At the Scott C. Gottlieb & Associates, our experienced Watertown medical negligence attorneys can help you to obtain monetary compensation from a doctor or health care provider who caused you to suffer harm as a result of a mistake he or she made. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling complex medical malpractice claims, and we will work on your behalf every step of the way.
Our Watertown malpractice lawyers are ready to help you. Call us now at (315) 782-3547 or 1-800-TALK-LAW (1-800-825-5529) or contact us via our online contact form. All calls and inquiries receive a response the same day, usually within one hour. There is no cost for a case review.