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A cancer diagnosis can be a life-altering experience. But, so can a failure to diagnose. In many cases, a timely diagnosis can allow for treatment that can either lead to remission or even cure the cancer entirely. However, when a diagnosis comes too late, the consequences can be devastating. Cancers (that could have been cured) may progress unnecessarily, and, in some cases, they become terminal.If you or a loved one has received a cancer misdiagnosis, you should consult with a Tallahassee cancer misdiagnosis lawyer about your family’s legal rights.
The same is true if your doctor failed to timely diagnose your (or your loved one’s) condition. Failure to diagnose cancer timely constitutes medical malpractice in many cases. Patients and families affected by medical malpractice are entitled to just compensation for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Cancer misdiagnoses for adult patients are far more common than they should be. Studies published by the BMJ Quality and Safety Journal and the Journal of Clinical Oncology place cancer misdiagnoses rates at 28 to 44 percent of all patients who seek treatment for specified and non-specified symptoms.
Why are cancer misdiagnoses so common? A survey conducted by the National Coalition on Health Care identifies three primary factors:
With regard to circumstances in which doctors make diagnostic errors despite having adequate information available, the survey points to two factors as accounting for nearly 90% of all cancer misdiagnoses: (i) lack of subspecialty expertise and (ii) inadequate sampling of lesions. These mistakes and the issues listed above frequently lead to misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of adult cancers, including:
No child deserves to live his or her life with the effects of cancer. Tragically, more than 10,000 children in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year. While the American Cancer Society reports that the five-year survival rate for children diagnosed with cancer is now 85 percent (compared to less than 60 percent in the 1970s), cancer is still the second-leading cause of death among children under the age of 14, and many children suffer lifelong effects due to their cancers.
Just like adults, children can face significant negative consequences as the result of misdiagnosed and undiagnosed cancers. This is true for all of the most common childhood cancers, including:
The factors that most commonly lead to the misdiagnosis and untimely diagnosis of adult cancers are also common in child cancer diagnoses. Other potential factors include:
Diagnosing child patients can present unique challenges due to the simple fact that children cannot communicate as effectively as adults. However, doctors have a duty to ensure that they accurately diagnose their patients regardless of their age and ability to communicate, which means that they must conduct adequate examinations to identify all possible conditions.
Because childhood cancers are relatively rare in comparison to other types of illnesses and diseases, doctors will often misattribute child patients’ symptoms. Early signs of cancer will be dismissed as likely symptoms of short-term viral and bacterial conditions in many cases.
As a result of conducting inadequate patient examinations and misattributing children’s symptoms, doctors will often fail to order necessary tests. This results in the further delay of diagnosis and treatment—which can potentially have incurable effects.
Even when doctors order necessary tests, they can still miss childhood cancers if they misinterpret the test results. From overlooking tumors to attributing signs of cancer to other conditions, various mistakes can lead to misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses in children.
Inadequate follow-up is another common factor in both adult and child cancer misdiagnoses. When a patient exhibits possible signs of cancer, regardless of the patient’s age, the patient’s provider should follow up and monitor the patient’s condition as necessary to determine if and when additional diagnostic measures are necessary.
Regardless of the specific issue or issues that lead to a cancer misdiagnosis, as a patient, parent or other family member, you should speak with a lawyer about your family’s legal rights. Compensation is available for medical malpractice in Florida, and an experienced Tallahassee cancer lawyer will be able to effectively pursue a claim for compensation on your family’s behalf.
If you would like to know more about seeking financial compensation for a cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, we encourage you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at Searcy Denney. To speak with one of our experienced Tallahassee cancer lawyers in confidence, please call 888-549-7011 or tell us how we can reach you online today.