Breast cancer is a difficult disease to diagnose because lumps can be misconstrued as nothing. The delayed diagnosis of breast cancer is common, but another common issue is that of misdiagnosis. A patient may be told that he or she has breast cancer, only to find out later that this is untrue – after medical tests, treatments, or possibly a mastectomy.
Breast cancer is still the second leading cause of death among women. While there are millions of survivors, there are millions more who have died because of their breast cancer. Some were caught early, others were improperly diagnosed. The probability of developing breast cancer is estimated at 12 percent.
Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis are misconstrued for one another, but from a legal standpoint, they are very different.
Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is very common with breast cancer. For example, a woman finds a lump during her self-examination. She then has a mammogram. The mammogram comes back negative, but the lump is still present. Her doctor would then need to decide if they should continue with other tests, or conclude that the lump was nothing.
Most physicians will conclude that the lump is benign, but had the lump been cancerous, the doctor would have been negligent and guilty of delayed diagnosis, because cancer may be discovered later.
The standard of care in these situations does require more than a negative mammogram and assuming the lump is a palpable mass. Instead, the standard of care would require that the physician continue testing, which means ordering an ultrasound. If that mass is still unknown, the physician should then request a biopsy. If the physician fails to follow up on a palpable mass, he or she could be liable for a delayed diagnosis.
On the other hand, a woman could have no palpable mass, but the mammogram is misread. In this instance, the physician determines that the woman has breast cancer. In another instance, a woman’s pathology results from a biopsy could be misread by the technician. The technician then decides that the woman has breast cancer, even though later examination reveals otherwise. Both of these are instances of a misdiagnosis of breast cancer.
The person making the call would ultimately be liable. For example, in the first situation, the physician would be liable for delaying the diagnosis of cancer. In the second instance, the physician or technician could be liable, since both misread the imaging results. In the third example, the technician, their employer, and possibly the physician could all be liable. If these individuals work in a clinic or hospital, then that facility may also be liable for the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
To prove that you had a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, you will need to speak with an attorney. Your attorney may then consult a cancer specialist or physician and see how he or she would have proceeded in a similar situation. If it is determined that your physician failed to follow the standard of care that others would have provided, then the doctor is likely negligent and liable under the law.
If you have had a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of breast cancer, you may be entitled to compensation. First, schedule a consultation with a medical malpractice attorney and see if your case meets the requirements under the Connecticut statute. Contact Berkowitz and Hanna LLC today to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation.