Philadelphia Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers
Cancer misdiagnosis cases, including delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis, can be the deciding factor between you or your loved one’s life and death. Throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, early detection has been proven to assist cancer patients in terms of properly treating a patient’s disease in a timely manner and reducing the effects of cancerous cells or tumors.
Cancer can affect all parts of the body, and some types of cancer spread more quickly than others. Diagnosing and treating cancer before it metastasizes, or spreads are essential. It requires medical professionals to act swiftly in terms of correctly diagnosing cancer, performing the necessary surgery, and initiating life-saving treatments.
Healthcare providers and doctors must practice medicine according to a standard of care. The standard of care means that a physician must have the same knowledge and skill and use the same care normally used in the medical profession. A physician whose conduct falls below this standard of care is negligent.
The tragic truth of the matter is that a cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is the root cause of many medical malpractice cases because this type of medical negligence leaves cancer patients without the possibility of receiving treatment in a timely manner. Without timely treatment, victims can lose that vital window to receive treatment that can hold off the spread of the disease, or even death.
Although cancer misdiagnosis cases sadly lead to a wrongful death claim brought about by the deceased cancer patient’s family, there are still many other instances in which surviving cancer patients will require the assistance of a misdiagnosis lawyer to assist them in their expensive, often painful recoveries.
If you have any reason to believe that you or your loved one’s medical professionals conducted any kind of misdiagnosis of cancer, then you may be able to receive compensation by bringing a medical malpractice claim. Contact us today for a free consultation so we can go over the details of your misdiagnosis case. We can begin the necessary first steps to evaluate your treatment and to see whether you have been the victim of medical malpractice.
Why is a Cancer Misdiagnosis Different From Other Types of Medical Malpractice?
Generally, a person’s chance of recovery is much higher when cancer is caught as early as possible. When a medical professional fails in any way to diagnose a certain condition or disease, it can increase the risk that the patient will have more serious consequences and can potentially die. But cancer, and its various types, is a disease that poses unique risks. This ultimately requires a specific standard of care.
By definition, cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the body. The abnormal cell growth interferes with regular cell functions and interrupts the body’s systems. The uncontrollable cell growth associated with any type of cancer is serious, especially when there are risks of the cancerous cells spreading to other parts of the body. This is one reason why any misdiagnosis of cancer or delayed diagnosis can lead to a patient’s death if the cancer patient isn’t treated promptly and properly. There is often an early window of time during which treatment may be more effective or less invasive.
Some of the most common types of cancer include the following:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Skin cancer
- Cervical cancer
But no matter what type of the disease a cancer patient is experiencing, early detection will go a long way toward maximizing a patient’s chance of recovery or survival. Medical professionals and healthcare providers all across the United States and abroad have begun utilizing an assortment of tools to help screen for or diagnose cancer, including:
Common Causes of a Cancer Misdiagnosis
Any misdiagnosis of cancer, or delayed diagnosis, can happen for a variety of reasons, including the following:
Failing to conduct appropriate testing or screenings
There are always patients that have higher risks for certain types of cancer, based on family history, lifestyle, and exposure. These individuals should have biopsies and screenings for early detection as a part of their preventive medical treatment. When a healthcare provider fails to notice certain symptoms that would necessitate cancer testing, or fails to heed a patient’s history, complaints or symptoms and fails to order a screening or tests, then there may be a violation of the standard of care.
Failing to adequately read and decipher test results
It’s part of a medical professional’s standard of care to properly read test results, and for cancer patients, these tests commonly include mammograms, x-rays, biopsies, and other tests or scans. When a healthcare provider doesn’t properly identify cancer indicators in test results, it can lead to a delayed diagnosis. This can potentially justify a malpractice claim.
Mistaking certain cancer symptoms for another illness
When an unsuspecting cancer patient is exhibiting symptoms that coincide with other illnesses, there is the potential for medical professionals to mistake those cancer symptoms for another disease or illness. A common cancer misdiagnosis example involves breast cancer, which can sometimes be misdiagnosed as benign tumors or non-cancerous cysts. Failing to follow up with biopsies and to perform more conclusive testing can have fatal consequences.
Not adequately responding to a cancer patient’s complaints
Healthcare providers have the professional duty to respond to their patient’s complaints, and if they are unable to adequately address a patient’s complaints the doctor should refer the patient to another medical professional in a timely manner. Failure to refer a potential cancer patient to the appropriate healthcare provider or specialist in a timely manner can potentially lead to a wrongful death and/or medical negligence claim.
Not appropriately scheduling follow-ups
Cancer patients often require regular checkups and close supervision by medical professionals in order to ensure their condition isn’t worsening over time. If you or a loved one is given a cancer diagnosis, then regular medical treatment will likely be necessary. A failure to schedule these follow-up appointments may be considered medical malpractice.
Proving a Cancer Misdiagnosis Resulted From Medical Malpractice
Although all medical professionals are susceptible to making mistakes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every medical mistake constitutes medical malpractice. Medical treatment is not a guarantee of recovery, but a doctor is required to abide by the applicable standard of care.
Medical malpractice cases must consist of an error that clearly indicates medical negligence by the healthcare provider. This means that the negligent medical professional violated the standard of care that the given client relationship required. If the standard of care is violated and harm results then a malpractice claim may be justified.
In most medical malpractice cases, the patient must be able to demonstrate the following:
- That there was a doctor-client relationship that obligated the medical professional to abide by a certain standard of care.
- That there was a form of medical negligence within this doctor-patient relationship or any kind of failure to act that violated the medical standard of care.
- That the patient/plaintiff suffered injuries as a result of the cancer misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis, and that the medical negligence conducted by the healthcare provider directly correlated to the patient’s physical/mental injuries, or even their death.
- That the patient suffered blatant or recognizable damages, and that the subsequent damages were a result of the medical malpractice.
Pennsylvania also requires a certificate of merit before pursuing a medical malpractice action against a doctor or healthcare provider. This is meant to ensure that only meritorious claims are brought.
The law in Pennsylvania requires that an attorney file a written certificate of merit stating that an appropriately licensed physician or expert has provided a written statement that there exists a “reasonable probability that the care, skill or knowledge exercised or exhibited in the treatment, practice or work that is the subject of the complaint, fell outside acceptable professional standards and that such conduct was a cause in bringing about the harm. ” See 231 Pa. Code § 1042.3. This certificate of merit has to be filed within 60 days of the filing of a complaint.
Common Damages Awarded in Cancer Misdiagnosis Cases
Any misdiagnosis of cancer will inevitably lead to an array of consequences for the cancer patient, including the following:
- Medical expenses
- Prescription expenses
- Lost wages and future earning capacity
- Pain and suffering, emotional distress and other non-economic damages
- Wrongful death
- Loss of consortium for the victim’s spouse
It is important to note that currently there are no caps on compensatory damages for medical malpractice claims in Pennsylvania.
Contact a Philadelphia Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer For a Free Consultation
Everyone’s first and foremost priority is their health. If a person isn’t healthy then their ability to do anything, whether work or personal, is limited or restricted. Following a physician’s medical recommendations after a cancer diagnosis is vital to improving your chance of recovery.
However, if you or a loved one believes that there has been a delayed diagnosis of cancer that has affected your ability to recover, please reach out to us for a free consultation.
Our team of experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyers will help set you and your family on the right track and evaluate whether there is a potential claim for medical malpractice.