Medical Malpractice: Missed Or Delayed Cancer Diagnosis

When most people become sick, they will go to the doctor to find out what is wrong with them so that they may obtain the right treatments and medications to get better. We trust that our doctor will use all of their education and experience to diagnose the illness we have in a timely manner before we become even sicker. But what happens when a doctor fails to diagnose a serious illness or that diagnosis is significantly delayed, especially with an illness like cancer?

When a doctor fails to diagnose a patient’s cancer, the missed diagnosis or delayed diagnosis can have a severe impact on the patient’s life. In many cases, that delay can mean that the cancer spreads or metastasizes, which means more extensive treatments and pain. In some cases, that delay can mean the death of the patient.

A delayed cancer diagnosis can literally mean life or death for the patient. Let’s take a look at two of the most common types of cancer, colon and breast cancer.

The survival rate for patients with colon cancer are:

  • Stage 1: 93 percent
  • Stage 2: 78 percent
  • Stage 3: 59 percent
  • Stage 4: 8 percent

The five-year survival rate for patients with breast cancer are:

  • Stage 1: 100 percent
  • Stage 2: 93 percent
  • Stage 3: 72 percent
  • Stage 4: 22 percent

As a medical malpractice lawyer, can explain, although a doctor can be held liable for some medical errors, they may not be held liable for every diagnostic error. In order for a diagnostic error to be deemed medical malpractice, the following elements must exist:

  • There was a relationship that existed between the doctor and the patient
  • The doctor acted in a negligent manner or they failed to provide competent and reasonable treatment
  • The missed or delayed diagnosis caused injury or loss to the patient or resulted in the patient’s death.

The key to a successful malpractice lawsuit is proving that the doctor was negligent and that negligence caused the injury or death of the patient. In other words, a patient may not be diagnosed with cancer right away, but it is possible for that delay not to be a result of any negligence on the part of the doctor. If the doctor ordered all the appropriate diagnostic tests based on the patient’s symptoms, yet cancer did not show up in these tests, this does not mean the doctor was negligent, so there would likely be no malpractice grounds. However, if the doctor failed to meet even the minimum standard of medical protocol for the patient’s symptoms, then a malpractice attorney may be able to prove negligence and malpractice.

If you or someone you love have been a victim of a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis, contact a medical malpractice attorney today to discuss what legal recourse you have.