Cancer Misdiagnosis: What You Need to Know
This disease’s survival rates have increased significantly since the 1990s. Even rare and aggressive forms of cancer, like mesothelioma, are often treatable if they are caught early enough.
Prompt diagnosis, however, is a problem. As many as 40 percent of call cancer patients are initially misdiagnosed. Mesothelioma diagnosis issues are a good illustration of the underlying problems.
Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that’s almost exclusively linked to asbestos exposure. Because it is so rare, doctors often diagnose patients with NSCLC. Non-small-cell lung carcinoma accounts for roughly 85 percent of all lung cancers. Furthermore, most mesothelioma patients do not have a family history of lung cancer and do not smoke. Doctors usually do not diagnose cancer if the patient has no apparent risk factors.
Since so much is at stake in these situations, a Brandon medical malpractice attorney may be able to obtain substantial compensation in these cases. Given the high cost of delayed diagnosis cancer treatments, this compensation often means the difference between life and death.
What Causes Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Lack of communication and lack of information cause most misdiagnosis incidents. Doctors are responsible for both, as outlined below.
Initially, many cancer patients complain of fatigue and pain, especially in the affected area. For example, lung cancer patients might have trouble breathing. These symptoms are rather vague and could indicate almost anything. So, the doctor should gently probe the patient with questions like “how long has this been going on?”
Unfortunately, on average, doctors listen to their patients for less than ten seconds. Given such short interaction, there is no deep conversation. Instead, many doctors dismiss such symptoms so they can move onto the next patient.
Lack of hard data compounds this problem. Many doctors do not order a full range of diagnostic tests. They may be afraid the insurance company will not pay for the tests. Alternatively, they may be so confident in their own abilities that they do not feel tests are necessary.
The bottom line is that many doctors only have a vague idea of what could be the problem and there may be no scientific data to confirm or deny their “gut feeling” diagnosis.
Legal Responsibility in Misdiagnosis Cases
In the face of misdiagnosis or other medical malpractice, some doctors try to blame nurses or technicians. But legally, the doctor is responsible for the patient’s care.
The doctor-patient duty is very high. Doctors have a legal responsibility to set aside all other concerns, such as making money, and do what is best for their patients. Additionally, the standard of care is usually straightforward in these matters. Doctors who skip tests or otherwise do not adhere to this standard may be responsible for damages.
These damages usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Moreover, additional punitive damages are usually available in misdiagnosis claims. These damages punish the tortfeasor (wrongful actor) and deter future misconduct. In other words, punitive damages give justice to victims and also help prevent future patients from suffering the same fate.
Contact Experienced Attorneys
Cancer misdiagnosis victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Brandon medical malpractice attorney, contact Reed & Reed, Attorneys at Law. We have four area offices (St. Petersburg, Lakeland, Tampa, and Clearwater).