When a patient has cancer, getting the correct diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. Unfortunately, missed and delayed diagnosis of cancer does happen. After skin cancer, breast cancer is the second most common cancer for women in the United States. While it can appear in both men and women, it is more common in females. The correct diagnosis and treatment are essential in managing this disease. If you have cancer and were misdiagnosed, it may lead to severe consequences.
Those affected by a misdiagnosis may want to seek legal advice. With the right diagnosis, a patient may be able to fight the cancer and continue to lead a healthy life. However, with the wrong medical information, patients may suffer additional harm, sometimes resulting in severe outcomes. If you had a missed or delayed diagnosis of cancer, you could have a medical malpractice claim. Protect your legal rights by consulting with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
Breast cancer forms in the cells of the breast. While it may be treatable, this disease can turn deadly without proper treatment. With support from researchers, there have been many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of this disease. Today, breast cancer survival rates have increased. These rates are the direct result of early detection, a better understanding of the disease, and a more personalized approach to treatment options.
Breast cancer causes the cells to grow abnormally, and they divide more rapidly than healthy cells. With this rapid growth process, the cells will form a mass or a lump. Those lumps can spread from the breast area to the lymph nodes. Lifestyle, environmental factors, and hormones all can increase your risk for breast cancer. With these known factors, it is critical to schedule regular mammograms to check for early signs of the disease.
There are a few symptoms of breast cancer. They include:
If any of these symptoms appear, it is imperative to seek medical help. Today, there are several procedures to diagnose breast cancer, including:
In some cases, doctors will use other procedures and tests to determine a breast cancer diagnosis. Once there is a definite diagnosis, the doctor will determine the stage of the cancer. Each cancer stage has specific treatment options and prognosis for the patient. Breast cancer has several stages that range from 0 to IV. Stage 0 is noninvasive cancer, while stage IV is severe and has spread throughout the body.
According to the American Cancer Society, the rates of beating cancer are as follows:
Your doctor will determine the breast cancer treatment option for your cancer based on its stage, size, and the cells’ sensitivity to hormones. Many women undergo surgery with additional treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation, or hormone therapy. In some cases, chemotherapy will be used before a surgical procedure.
As you can tell, cancer cells need to be detected as early as possible for treatment to stop the spread to other areas of the body. A delayed diagnosis can lead to more prolonged and intense therapies with a smaller chance of long-term survival. With a misdiagnosis, you can be facing unnecessary medical treatments and costs, including a delay in treating the cancer as it progresses throughout the body.
With a breast cancer misdiagnosis, there are many negative consequences, including:
For those who have had a breast cancer misdiagnosis, you know the financial and emotional burden of the treatment process. Medical negligence can cause pain and suffering to the patient and their loved ones.
There are several ways that a medical professional can misdiagnose cancer. For many women, doctors use mammograms for early cancer detection, but mammograms can produce errors with devastating effects. Mammograms use low-energy X-rays to provide doctors with images of the tissues inside the breast. Doctors interpreting those images may miss signs of cancer that are present in the images. There are two reasons to use mammograms: to screen for cancer and to diagnose the severity of the disease. Regardless of the reason for using mammography, if the results are misinterpreted, it may lead to a misdiagnosis for the patient.
Ultrasound is another kind of imaging doctors use to assess breast health, usually when following up on suspicious findings revealed in a mammogram. Ultrasound uses sound waves with frequencies higher than people can hear to create images of breast tissue. Doctors sometimes miss suspicious findings revealed by ultrasound images.
The breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) exam uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the breast, and a radiologist reads the results. If the MRI is read incorrectly, there could be a breast cancer misdiagnosis, which can lead to unnecessary or delayed cancer treatment.
These imaging results and the patient’s health are incorporated into the overall clinical picture for the patient. When the medical professional fails to assess the health of the patient correctly, it could be negligence. The physician must take into account the imaging results and the symptoms of the patient to accurately diagnose cancer. The failure to make proper treatment recommendations or an image interpretation error may lead to a breast cancer misdiagnosis for the patient.
If you have been the victim of a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis, you are entitled to two basic types of compensation: economic and non-economic damages.
In rare cases, the healthcare provider may have made an egregious diagnosis that results in the unnecessary removal of the breast or a fatal progression of the cancer. In those instances, the patient or their loved ones can receive punitive damages from the doctor. These damages are above the compensatory awards. They are used to punish the defendant and serve as a deterrent to others that may be engaged in reckless behavior.
Advances in mammography screenings have led to earlier detection of breast cancer with a higher survival rate. Despite all the positive impacts, there are still mistakes that can occur. A delay in cancer diagnosis can have irreversible effects on the patient, which can impact the survival rate and course of treatment. A doctor needs to exercise reasonable care when providing medical treatment. When the healthcare provider fails to follow accepted standards of care, then there may be a valid case for medical malpractice.
When the doctor is diagnosing or treating cancer, there are accepted standards of care, including:
Time is critical when it comes to a suspected case of breast cancer. Your medical professional should act under those accepted levels of care to treat your symptoms. In some cases, doctors fail to live up to those standards, which leads to negligence in care.
Medical malpractice occurs when the doctor’s negligence harms the patient. There are a few basic requirements for a malpractice case, including:
Every state has its own time guideline for medical malpractice cases. In general, a lawsuit must be started within the time frame set forth by your particular state under a law called the “statute of limitations.” After the statute of limitations has passed, the patient can no longer pursue any legal claims for missed or delayed diagnosis. However, this period may be extended if the patient did not have any reason to know their doctor misdiagnosed their cancer, for example if you were told you were cancer-free, only to learn later that you actually had cancer. Also, cases for minors are treated differently.
If you have been affected by a delayed or misdiagnosed cancer diagnosis, you need to contact an attorney to handle your case. By waiting to seek compensation, you can limit your legal options.
If you suspect you have been misdiagnosed or received improper cancer treatment, you should seek legal advice. You need to find an attorney who handles misdiagnosis and delayed cancer malpractice claims. The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer will investigate whether you have been a victim of medical negligence.
If you have questions about your cancer malpractice claim, contact the legal team at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer. Please take a few minutes and fill out the contact form at rayneslaw.com or call us at (800) 535-1797, and someone from our team will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your potential claim.
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