Experienced Malpractice Attorneys Serving Victims of Cancer Misdiagnosis
Serving the Areas of Stamford, Danbury, Bridgeport, Shelton and all Connecticut
Cancer is the leading killer of Americans under the age of 85. For many cancers, early detection and treatment can greatly increase the chance a person will successfully recover from the disease. Generally, if cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage, it will require less invasive and toxic treatment, and a patient has a greater chance of being cured of the disease. However, that early detection and treatment may not happen if the cancer is misdiagnosed, either because the physician makes no diagnosis, or – after being presented with a patient showing the symptoms of some form of cancer – diagnoses the wrong disease or condition.
About 1.6 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2015, according to the American Cancer Society, and nearly 590,000 are expected to die of the disease this year (about a quarter of all deaths in the U.S.). As deadly as cancer is, and as critical as an early diagnosis is to increase the chances of a good outcome for the patient, the healthcare system regularly fails those with cancer. The estimates for patients with cancer going to physicians and being misdiagnosed range from 28% based on a study published in the BMJ Quality and Safety Journal to as high as 44% from a study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Not all misdiagnoses are caused by medical malpractice, but many are. If a physician failed to properly diagnose you with cancer and as a result the disease progressed, causing more harm and requiring additional treatment, you may have grounds for legal action against the physician and/or the hospital where the physician is employed. The attorneys at The Berkowitz and Hanna LLC will aggressively advocate for your rights to assure that those responsible for a misdiagnosis will bear the blame.
How Misdiagnosis Happens
There are many possible reasons for a misdiagnosis. A survey of 400 oncologists and pathologists by the National Coalition on Health Care and Best Doctors revealed the following:
- The most frequently cited barrier to accurately and completely diagnosing and characterizing cancer was “fragmented or missing information across medical information systems.” This was the case in 38.5% of misdiagnoses.
- The cause of most errors in interpreting pathology specimens was “pathologist’s lack of subspecialty expertise,” according to 47% of those surveyed.
- In addition, 6.8% of physicians claimed that they didn’t have enough time to make a proper diagnosis.
These factors, which can lead to the misdiagnosis of patients – and even potentially to the early deaths of many – are all within the control of physicians and their hospitals. The adequacy of their information systems, the quality of their pathologists, the number of patients being seen, and physicians’ ability to manage their time are all extremely significant factors in proper diagnosis and treatment. Above all, the most important aspect of proper diagnosis is the work of the physicians and pathologists in determining and treating the disease, which there are some obstacles to doing properly. For example, some cancers are simply easier to diagnose than others – some types of cancer, especially if it has already begun to spread throughout the body, can be difficult to define and locate. It is also possible that a doctor may be biased against a cancer diagnosis because of the patient’s youth or otherwise good health, leading to the misinterpretation of test results. The doctor may also be hesitant to refer the patient to another doctor with more expertise, even if this would increase the patient’s chances of correct diagnosis and treatment.
If a doctor is not qualified – or simply makes a mistake – it can easily lead to a misdiagnosis. Specific issues that can be the basis for a misdiagnosis include:
- Malignant (cancerous) mass is diagnosed as benign (non-cancerous)
- Malignant lesion or tissue is missed in the biopsy
- Tumor is misclassified as to type or grade
- Patient at increased risk for cancer does not receive appropriate screening
- Physician does not pay enough attention to the patient’s complaints
- Failure to properly follow up with a patient when cancer should have been suspected
Contact Our Decisive Lawyers to Discuss Your Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
Those who have a malignancy that is misinterpreted or missed entirely will not receive the proper, effective treatment they need. Even if the error is caught, the treatment may be delayed, allowing the disease to progress and ultimately reducing the patient’s overall chances of survival. In addition, patients who do not have a malignancy, but are who are diagnosed with a cancer they actually do not have, may endure harmful and unnecessary treatment.
If you believe you have been injured because of a cancer misdiagnosis, get the help of an experienced, knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney. Trying to resolve the issue yourself with a doctor, hospital, or insurance company without legal counsel could result in a settlement for far less than your case is actually worth.
The medical malpractice attorneys at Berkowitz Hanna can help individuals who have been the victim of a cancer misdiagnosis. We can discuss what happened and why, the applicable laws, and the best options for you to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Call us at (866) 479-7909 or request a free consultation on our contact page.