The American Cancer Society estimates that 1.7 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. every year. The reality is that many of these cases are mistakenly diagnosed or diagnosed long after a doctor could have detected the disease. As a result, patients may receive unnecessary or ineffective treatment. Their chance of survival may be greatly diminished.
Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., is committed to helping those who have suffered harm or lost a loved one due to a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer. Contact us today to speak with an attorney about your case. We serve clients in Chicago and throughout Illinois. Our consultations are free and confidential.
If you believe that your life has been impacted by this form of medical error, you deserve to have your case carefully investigated and to have all of your legal options thoroughly explored.
How Often Does Cancer Misdiagnosis Occur?
Given medical advances and the seriousness of the illness, many refuse to believe that a cancer misdiagnosis could occur. However, it does occur – frequently.
A study of medical malpractice claims published in the journal, BMJ Open, found that missed diagnoses account for the majority of claims filed each year, with cancer as one of the most frequently misdiagnosed conditions.
In a survey of cancer-related specialists by Best Doctors and the National Coalition on Health Care, 60.5 percent said they believed that between 0 to 10 percent of cancer cases are misdiagnosed or “improperly characterized,” while 33.3 percent estimated the error rate to be between 10 and 20 percent. In other words, doctors themselves believe these errors occur at rates that indicate a serious problem.
According to the same survey, doctors believe the most frequently misdiagnosed forms of cancer are:
A cancer misdiagnosis can include both:
- False positive – Diagnosing a patient with cancer when, in reality, the patient suffers from a less-serious, treatable condition
- False negative – Failing to detect cancer in a patient, leading to a delay in needed treatment or no treatment at all for the disease.
Why Does Cancer Misdiagnosis Occur?
Primary care physicians, oncologists and other specialists may be responsible for the failure to make an accurate and timely diagnosis of cancer. Your attorney can help you to obtain your medical records and consult with highly qualified medical experts to determine when and how the diagnostic error occurred in your case.
Possible errors that can lead to a missed or delayed cancer diagnosis include failing to:
- Spend enough time analyzing the patient’s symptoms
- Obtain the patient’s complete, accurate medical history
- Correctly communicate medical information
- Collect adequate genetic information about the patient
- Order appropriate tests that could readily detect the disease
- Accurately interpret the results of tests that are conducted
- Refer a patient to a specialist with the experience and resources to arrive at a prompt and accurate diagnosis.
Often, a missed or delayed diagnosis of cancer can traced to the pathologist, or specialist who examines blood and tissue samples in order to diagnose a disease.
According to the Best Doctors/National Coalition on Health Care survey, doctors said that errors often occur in the interpretation of pathology samples due to:
In reality, cancer misdiagnoses result from a series of process breakdowns within the medical care system. A number of different parties can and should be held responsible for any harm that results.
What Legal Steps Can You Take to Obtain Compensation?
Patients and their families can suffer severe physical, emotional and financial harm from the misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of cancer.
If a patient is diagnosed with cancer that does not have the disease, it can lead to costly and unnecessary medical treatment while a treatable condition goes unaddressed.
If a cancer diagnosis is missed, the disease can progress to advanced stages. A patient’s treatment options and chances of survival are greatly reduced.
For example, American Cancer Society data shows that breast cancer can be effectively treated when it is diagnosed at the Stage 1 level. However, the five-year survival rate (a patient’s survival five years after being diagnosed) drops by 78 percent once the disease reaches Stage IV.
Breast Cancer Five-Year Survival Rates
If you have been harmed or lost a loved one due to a mistaken or delayed diagnosis of cancer, you have the right to seek a recovery for your losses through a personal injury or wrongful death medical malpractice claim.
To pursue a claim, Illinois law requires an affidavit from a medical professional who has affirmed that your claim has merit. Typically, it is also necessary to have an expert witness testify in trial unless the actions of the physician are so clearly negligent that a layperson could determine that the physician provided unacceptable care.
To prevail in a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will be required to demonstrate that the physician, hospital or laboratory offered a level of care below what a reasonable provider with the same background and experience would have provided. You also must show that the error and misdiagnosis was the direct cause of compensable harm.
A medical malpractice claim based on a misdiagnosis of cancer could result in compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost income and other damages.
A settlement would result in receiving this compensation in exchange for giving up the right to sue. If the defendants in the case refuse to agree to a fair and full settlement, you may pursue your case in court. However, you may settle up to the point when the jury has returned its verdict.
Contact a Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer Serving Chicago and Illinois
A medical malpractice attorney with experience handling claims in the Chicago area and throughout Illinois can guide you through the settlement and litigation process in a cancer misdiagnosis claim. Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C., can help. Call or contact us online today to set up your free consultation.
Sources / More Information:
- Breast Cancer Survival Rates by Stage, American Cancer Society
- The Six Early Detectable and Treatable Cancers, Friends of Cancer Patients
- Most Common Medical Malpractice Claims for Missed Cancer, Heart Attacks, CBS News