What is Cancer?
Cancer is caused by abnormal overgrowth of cells. Usually these cells stick
together and form tumors, they may be dispersed into the blood stream,
or into the lymphatic system. As technology advances, the diagnosis of
cancer has improved and treatments for cancer have also improved significantly.
With advanced detection methods and treatments survival rates for cancer
has dramatically increased. However cancer is the second leading cause
of death in the USA. Misdiagnosis of cancer is not common because physical
and health care professionals usually will perform comprehensive diagnostic
testing if cancer is even a possibility.
Despite the advanced technology helping detect early cancer, misdiagnosis
cases do occur. Cancer misdiagnosis often occurs when a doctor misreads
a biopsy slide. When the suspicion of a malignancy arises, a biopsy is
done to prove or disprove the presence of cancer. It is most often seen
in prostate cancer patients. A minimum of eight separate biopsies should
be preformed with many experts in the field recommending up to fifteen
for better diagnostic accuracy. If cancer is not found in the biopsy specimens
then close follow up with rebiopsy is recommended.
Once the biopsies have been taken in a prostate case, a consultation with
the pathologist reading the specimens is important to the overall treatment
of the patient. If the biopsy was from the area of the cancer but did
not specifically detect cancer cells there may be other findings that
are suspicious for a malignancy in the adjacent tissue.
What is Medical Malpractice in a Cancer Case?
Medical malpractice is a physician's failure to perform his job with caution
and care as a competent practitioner in the same or similar specialization.
In a failure to diagnose cancer case, it is often the physician's oversight
or inability to properly diagnose cancer which is most times glaringly
obvious. In the instance where the patient was thought of as a cancer
risk and nothing was done to ensure proper screening, the patient has
to prove that there was in fact a deviation from the standard of care.
This measure requires another doctor reviewing the patient's existing
file and coming to the conclusion that the doctor did indeed fail to do
what was expected of him. This may include misinterpretation of test results
and other medical errors.
The patient also has to prove that the deviation in one way or another
prevented or substantially decreased his opportunity to beat the cancer.
By virtue of the patient being thought of as a cancer risk and not being
treated properly for it constitutes medical malpractice. If you find that
you are in this position and need more information, call our attorneys
at the Lassen Law Firm. We are here to help and point you in the right
direction in making your claim.
Misdiagnosis is the number one medical mistake in Pennsylvania. When there
is a delay in diagnosis, a localized form of cancer is unfortunately given
time to enlarge or spread to nearby lymph nodes or other organs. The cancer
diagnosis delay, which may last from several months to years, may result
in a decrease in the patient's chance of cure or survival. This type of
malpractice may occur when a patient reports to a doctor with a sign/symptom
suggestive of cancer, but the doctor negligently fails to make the diagnosis
because failing to:
- Conduct a thorough examination;
- Identify a malignant tumor;
- Timely order or perform a test, study, or film;
- Properly interpret the test images and lab results;
- Read the results of a report;
- Screen cancer-free patients routinely;
- Properly determine the aggressiveness of the tumor;
- Notice a cancerous lesion in a biopsy
- Identify an abnormality in a study report;
- Timely refer the patient to the appropriate specialist for further examination;
- Recommend a follow-up appointment within the appropriate time period;
- Attentively listen and understand a patient's complaints.
As a result of negligence, the cancer remains undiagnosed and starts spreading.
When the cancer is eventually diagnosed, the unfortunate spread of the
cancer may have resulted in the patient having a decreased chance of cure
and having to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. Misdiagnosis can be absolutely
devastating to a patient and their family, let alone the deadly consequences.
Early diagnosis is a major factor in the outcome of most cancers. If you
feel that you have been affected by a misdiagnosis of cancer you owe it
to yourself and your loved ones to consult a legal professional experienced
in handling cases such as these.
The issue of whether the doctor was negligent in detecting, diagnosing
and treating cancer requires a medical expert who knows the details of
diagnosis and medical malpractice. If you think you or someone you know
has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact the Lassen Law Firm
for a free case evaluation and learn how we may be able to help you recover
compensation for your losses. Medical malpractice cases are much more
involved than other types of personal injury cases. A medical malpractice
plaintiff must prove that the doctor or medical staff did not show the
proper level of care. It must be proven that their actions were not acceptable
and they faulted either purposely or negligently. The Lassen Law Firm
employs attorneys who have the legal knowledge and experience to help
you succeed in your cancer misdiagnosis case.
Philadelphia Misdiagnosis of Cancer Lawyer
Cancer is a term used to describe a group of diseases that attack cells
in the body, causing them to change, mutate and experience uncontrolled
growth. Over time the majority of cancer cells grow in such a way as to
form a lump or a tumor. Cancer is usually typed by its point of origin
within the body and is named as such.
Cancer is typically considered by the general public to be a deadly disease,
and the term incites fear and anxiety in those who are diagnosed. The
truth is, many forms of cancer are treatable and the prognosis for patients
is often very favorable. Recent breakthroughs in cancer research mean
that many cancers do not have to be a death sentence – but early
detection and diagnosis is key.
While most cancer is detected early, there are times when a diagnosis is
missed or greatly delayed. An estimated 15 percent of cancer cases are
either misdiagnosed or missed completely in the early stages. This can
be due to a variety of reasons but when fault falls upon the shoulders
of the doctor, the lab or medical facility, the mistake can be devastating.
However, patients who have experienced a failure to diagnose cancer do
have recourse. A cancer misdiagnosis lawyer in Philadelphia from our firm
can help get the patient the compensation to which they are entitled.
The Value of Early Detection
Cancer can be a killer and the longer it is allowed to be present in the
body without treatment, the more dangerous it becomes. The longer cancer
is allowed to grow and spread, the more difficult it is to treat. If detection
is delayed for too long, the cancer can become completely untreatable.
The consequences of this can be serious, including disfigurement, further
health complications and even wrongful death.
According to the American Cancer Society, delaying a patient's cancer diagnosis
by as little as three months can exponentially increase their mortality
rate. Early detection can provide the patient with an extremely valuable
asset – time. The patient has time to attack the cancer before it
spreads, time to get treatment while it is still treatable and time to
prevent the complications that can dramatically affect their quality of
life even if the cancer is completely eradicated.
Early Diagnostic Tools
Doctors, nurses and physician assistants are trained to recognize certain
symptoms that are indicative of early stage cancer. There are also numerous
tests that can actually detect early stage cancer – sometimes even
before the patient has begun experiencing symptoms. The technology and
knowledge that allow for this early detection is out there and available
for healthcare professionals. Unfortunately, these early diagnostic tools
are not properly utilized either due to a doctor's mistake. This results
in in a missed or delayed diagnosis.
Screening tests such as mammograms, Pap tests, Prostate-Specific Antigen
(PSA) test and screening for colorectal cancer can detect cancer early
allowing it to be detected before the patient even experiences any symptoms.
When symptoms are present then diagnostic tests are used so that the cause
of the symptoms can be identified.
How a Cancer Diagnosis may be Delayed
A cancer diagnosis may be delayed for several reasons. Sometimes the physician
is simply dismissive of a patient's symptoms. In the end though, it all
comes back to negligence. Negligence that delays a cancer diagnosis can
come in many forms.
- Doctor or technician cannot recognize a tumor
- Skin growths are not examined or biopsied
- Equipment or diagnostic technology malfunctions
- X-rays, MRIs and other imaging studies are misread
- Diagnostic tests are not performed when they are needed
- Elevated PSA is not detected
- Failure to order appropriate testing despite suspicious symptoms in a patient
- Technician or doctor did not perform the test correctly
- Patient is not referred to the appropriate specialist
- Lab results are switched, contaminated or lost
- Test results are misread or misinterpreted
When cancer is suspected, there are many experts involved. The doctor should
work with pathologists, radiologists and other specialists. These medical
professionals have an ethical obligation to fully explore suspicious symptoms,
especially when cancer is suspected.
When Early Detection Fails
A delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can leave patients afraid, frustrated
and financially burdened as treatment must be handled more aggressively
or their condition may be terminal and they must prepare for the end.
Disfiguration may occur as large scars or missing limbs may come from
tumor removal when early detection could have minimized the trauma.
Liable Parties when a Cancer Diagnosis is Delayed
The main party in the case of delayed or failed diagnosis of cancer is
the doctor. Handling a delayed diagnosis case is typically very complex.
Doctors will deny any negligence, shifting the blame to the lab technicians,
specialists or even claim a malfunction of the diagnostic technology.
They may assert that early detection and treatment would have had no effect
on the case.
Most times it is the doctor who is negligent; other times it may indeed
be the fault of other specialists or technicians involved, although the
doctor is is on the hook still.
What to Look for in a Failure to Diagnose Cancer Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Delayed diagnosis cases require expertise in not only the legal field,
but in the medical field as well. Because of its complexity, patients
need to carefully consider their legal representation. Medical malpractice
is generally a blanket term and not all cases are created equal. Misdiagnosis
of cancer or failure to diagnosis cancer is a highly specialized field
of medical malpractice law that requires a great deal of technical know-how.
A patient seeking legal representation for a failure to diagnose cancer
or misdiagnosis of cancer case should consider the following:
- Does the attorney have experience with misdiagnosis or failure to diagnosis
cancer? How much?
- Does the attorney have experience handling cases like the patient's?
- Does the attorney stay up to date on current medical issues? How?
- Does the attorney have access to medical professionals for consultation?
How does he or she find them?
- What is the attorney's track record? How many failure to diagnose cancer
cases has he or she taken to trial? How many were won?
- Is the attorney in good standing with the bar?
- Has the attorney ever been disciplined by the bar?
- Does the attorney have the financial resources to handle the tremendous
expenses that may occur in a medical malpractice case?
- What do their references have to say?
Our top medical malpractice lawyers will get you the maximum possible compensation
available under Pennsylvania law.
Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorney Philadelphia
If you or someone in your family has been seriously harmed by a medical
error, please call our medical malpractice lawyers at the Lassen Law Firm.
We are here to listen to you and to take action when it is deemed to be
the right thing to do. The information you provide is held in absolute
privacy and strictest confidence and is shared only with the attorneys
that will be working on your concerns. The Lassen Law Firm works on a
contingency basis meaning that we only get paid when you do, so there
are no costs for our investigation fees. Call the Lassen Law Firm now
to see how we can help.