It may be medical malpractice when a doctor fails to diagnose cancer in a timely manner. The failure to diagnose cancer, a delayed cancer diagnosis, missed cancer diagnosis, or misdiagnosis, may be grounds for a medical malpractice claim in Pennsylvania or New Jersey if it causes harm or death to the patient.
Although a doctor’s failure to detect or identify cancer may seem like it would create a straightforward case for the plaintiff, in reality, these cases are very complex. Misdiagnosis cases require proving the doctor breached the standard of care and that the breach of standard of care was the cause of the patient’s harm. To meet this burden, attorneys work with highly qualified and specialized medical experts.
To discuss your cancer misdiagnosis in a free and confidential legal consultation with a Philadelphia cancer misdiagnosis attorney, call the Wieand Law Firm at (800) 481-5206.
What Types of Cancer are Commonly Misdiagnosed?
Some types of cancer have a high survival rate when detected early. However, a delayed or missed diagnosis may rob a person of the chance to beat an otherwise treatable form of cancer.
For example, breast cancer, which is the most common non-skin cancer among women, is very treatable when detected early. If a breast cancer patient is diagnosed when the cancer is still in localized form, there is a significantly higher five-year survival rate. However, without swift and aggressive medical intervention, breast cancer or other cancers can rapidly metastasize, spreading to other sites throughout the body. Breast cancer is among the many types of cancer which are frequently misdiagnosed, or go undetected by doctors altogether.
Below are some other commonly misdiagnosed cancers, including some of the medical conditions they are often mistaken for.
- Bladder Cancer – Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)
- Bone Cancer – Arthritis, bursitis
- Brain Cancer – Anxiety, depression, sinusitis
- Breast Cancer – Cysts, fibroadenoma, lipoma, mastitis
- Colorectal Cancer – Diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Leukemia – Fibromyalgia, Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (ITP), lupus, mono,
- Lung Cancer – Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), pneumonia, tuberculosis (TB)
- Ovarian Cancer – Cysts, diverticulitis, endometriosis, IBS, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
- Pancreatic Cancer – Diabetes, gallstones, IBS
- Skin Cancer – Eczema, normal moles/birthmarks, ringworm
- Stomach Cancer – IBS, ulcers
- Testicular Cancer – Cysts, epididymitis, hydrocele
- Uterine Cancer – Adenomyosis, fibroids
Some cancers which frequently go undetected, or are confused with other conditions, include:
- Cervical Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer
- Eye Cancer
- Gallbladder Cancer
- Kaposi Sarcoma
- Liver Cancer
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Oral Cancer (Mouth Cancer)
- Parathyroid Cancer
- Penile Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Small Intestine Cancer
- Thyroid Cancer
- Vulvar Cancer
Is it Medical Malpractice When a Doctor Fails to Diagnose Cancer?
A missed or late diagnosis of cancer may result from the carelessness or negligence of a doctor, dentist, nurse or other medical professional. Some reasons cancer may be diagnosed late or incorrectly include:
- Failure to diagnose or recognize a malignant tumor
- Failure to interpret X-rays, CT scans, or other medical imaging correctly
- Failure to order a diagnostic test
- Failure to recognize signs and symptoms of cancer
- Failure to perform a necessary diagnostic test
- Failure to refer a patient to a specialist
- Lab results getting lost or mixed up with the wrong patient file
- Misinterpretation of test results
- Performing diagnostic tests incorrectly
These are just a few examples of breaches of the standard of care that may give rise to a medical malpractice lawsuit or claim in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. Even if you are not sure whether your medical provider committed malpractice, you are urged to contact the Wieand Law Firm for a free review of your medical treatment so you don’t lose your right to bring a claim.
Can I Sue for a Delayed Cancer Diagnosis or Misdiagnosis?
In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, there is a two-year statute of limitations, or deadline, on medical malpractice cases. However, your Philadelphia medical malpractice attorney will need time to review your medical records and consult with oncologists and other experts. Therefore, it is important to immediately contact an experienced attorney if you suspect that your treating physician or medical provider made an error that caused you to suffer harm, or led to the wrongful death of a spouse or family member.
To succeed in any malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove that his or her medical provider breached the applicable standard of care. The plaintiff will also have to prove that that this breach caused the harm or death of the patient. Generally speaking, personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits require plaintiffs to establish each of the following elements:
- Duty of Care – The doctor has a duty of care to his or her patient.
- Breach of Duty – The doctor violated his or her duty to prevent the patient from sustaining avoidable and foreseeable harm.
- Causation – The patient’s cancer developed or worsened because of the doctor’s actions or failures to act.
- Damages – The patient suffered harm as a result of the doctor’s actions or failures to act.
In cases involving the delayed or missed diagnosis of cancer, we will consult with highly qualified oncology experts to prove the elements of a malpractice case. Our firm will scour through what can amount to mountains of medical records in order to find the evidence needed to prove that your healthcare provider was negligent.
Lawsuits for delayed cancer diagnosis are usually defended zealously by large defense firms who will spare no expense during litigation. Defense attorneys will likely retain a “hired gun” medical expert who will testify that the doctor’s treatment did not breach the proper standard of care. It is also common for defense attorneys to argue that even if the claimant’s cancer was diagnosed earlier, the end result would be the same, or his or her life would have only been extended for a short period of time. We are wise to the defense tactics of lawyers who represent doctors and hospitals, and know how to combat them so that your rights as an injury victim are protected.
Compensation for Medical Malpractice Victims in PA and NJ
Financial compensation may be one of the last things on your mind after learning of a doctor’s failure to diagnose cancer. However, it is important that you have the financial resources you will need to get quality care, as well as to take care of your family if you no longer can. We will work hard to ensure you are not driven into medical debt by your doctor’s mistake. By pursuing a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit, you may be able to obtain not only the compensation you need and deserve, but also that the doctor has been held accountable for his or her actions.
In addition, you may be entitled to financial compensation for a variety of other losses and expenses, including “economic” damages (compensation for financial losses) and “non-economic” damages (compensation for non-financial losses). Examples of economic and non-economic damages available in a medical malpractice case in New Jersey or Pennsylvania may include, depending on the circumstances, the following:
- Diminished Future Earning Capacity
- Loss of Consortium
- Loss of Income
- Medical Bills
- Pain and Suffering
- Scarring and Disfigurement
Pennsylvania does not cap or limit the aforementioned damages. The only medical malpractice cap in Pennsylvania is a limit on punitive damages, which are sometimes awarded in cases where the defendant’s negligence was particularly extreme. The same holds true of malpractice cases in New Jersey.
Philadelphia Delayed Cancer Diagnosis Attorney Handling Settlements and Lawsuits
Incompetent, apathetic and negligent doctors should be held accountable for the devastation that is caused by their actions. An aggressive personal injury lawyer can stand by your side to prove that your doctor made a serious diagnostic error allowing malignant tumors to develop, progress, and spread.
Our missed cancer diagnosis attorneys represent patients and their loved ones throughout all of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We are proud to serve clients in Atlantic County, Berks County, Bucks County, Camden County, Cape May County, Chester County, Cumberland County, Delaware County, Gloucester County, Lancaster County, Lehigh County, Montgomery County, Northampton County, Philadelphia County, Salem County, and other locations across both states.
For a free legal consultation regarding your potential malpractice claim, call the Wieand Law Firm at (800) 481-5206. Your call is confidential, and you never owe us any fees or costs unless we accept your case and recover compensation for you.
*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. The Wieand Law Firm, LLC is based in Philadelphia, PA, and proud to serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.*