doctor and patient meeting and the doctor is taking notes

MisdiagnosisFailure To Timely Diagnose Cancer

Surviving Often Depends on an Early Diagnosis

Doctors that fail to diagnose a tumor can render that cancer untreatable

Timely diagnoses

In an ideal world, a patient notices the symptoms that cancer is causing, seeks medical attention, the doctor diagnosis the cancer, treatment is started and the patient recovers. What happens when the doctor fails to timely diagnose a malignant tumor? This scenario requires a complicated medical and legal analysis.

A medical error is actionable if more likely than not had the error not been committed the patient would not have suffered the injury. Cancer treatments and survivor rates have steadily improved over the years. Unfortunately, there are some cancers that are more likely than not a death sentence. Thus, the failure to timely diagnose will usually not change the patient’s outcome. The good news is that many advances have been made in treatments as well as methods to detect the disease early. For these cancers a misdiagnosis may alter the patient’s future.

The misdiagnosis lawyers at Patterson Law offer free consultations to evaluate whether you may have a case because a doctor misdiagnosed or failed to timely diagnose the a treatable disease.

Failed diagnoses

If a treatable cancer was not diagnosed timely a medical analysis needs to be conducted to determine whether the delay in diagnosis caused any harm. Once diagnosed, an expert can assess the stage that the cancer would have been on the date that a diagnosis should have been made. An example of the conclusions that would warrant a failure timely diagnose cancer case would be the following:

  • Patient is concerned about a group of symptoms consistent with colon cancer.
  • Patient sees Dr. X and is advised that he has irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Patient tries to manage the symptoms that are supposedly from irritable bowel syndrome, but the symptoms worsen.
  • Patient returns to Dr. X multiple times and is given the same diagnosis.
  • After 10 months of worsening symptoms the patient sees Dr. Y and Dr. Y orders the proper diagnostic tests and diagnoses the patient with stage 4 colon cancer.
  • According to the American Cancer Society Stage IV colon cancer has an 11% 5year survival rate.
  • The survival rate for stage II is over 50%.
  • An expert analysis concludes that more likely than not the patient had stage II colon cancer when he first sought care from Dr. X for symptoms that should have triggered a determination as to whether the patient had a malignancy.
  • The example above demonstrates a case where a timely diagnosis more likely than not would have resulted in the patient beating colon cancer. Due to the failure to timely diagnose the patient will more likely than not die from the cancer. The damages from a failure to timely diagnose do not necessarily have to be living versus dying.

The availability of treatments may be dependent on the stage of the cancer. Some treatments simply are no longer viable options after the disease has progressed past a certain point. It is helpful to establish that effective treatment options would have been available had a timely diagnosis been made.

Working with George was just great. He listened to me thoroughly and was very compassionate about my case and situation. During the entire process, he was very forthcoming with information that he found and gave lots of suggestions and examples for previous experiences. The entire process was very structured (which I like a lot), so there’s no room for confusion or misunderstanding.

A Personal Injury Client.

Most failure to diagnose cancer cases involve the eventual death of the patient. The creation of a video documenting the suffering can be taken to graphically show how the disease affected the patient. The delay in diagnosis often results in the patient needing extensive help from family members to fight the disease as opposed to being strong enough to care for themselves during the fight.

Some cancers have such low survivability rates that it is often legally impossible to demonstrate a legal malpractice case for failing to timely diagnose the cancer.

George Patterson

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

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If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident or suffered a serious personal injury due to someone else’s negligence please contact the best personal injury lawyers at Patterson Law. George Patterson has been featured in an article published in the Best Lawyers in America. The “best” injury lawyers may be reached at their Annapolis or Bowie offices at 301-888-4878.

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