What Should I Do if My Doctor Failed to Diagnose My Cancer?July 12, 2021
Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, or has a loved one with cancer, knows how life-changing the diagnosis can be. The patient may face a long road of surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or all three. It can be a stressful and anxiety-ridden time. Now just imagine this same diagnosis but happening too late or later than optimal for the best outcome.
This scenario is not uncommon in Baltimore, or across the United States. Although most medical professionals are competent, they are also human, and mistakes happen.
A doctor or other professional may misdiagnose a patient or fail to diagnose an illness at all. A failed or wrong diagnosis can mean the difference between a treatable and untreatable condition and life or death where cancer is concerned. When that happens, the patient has every right to pursue compensation from the negligent parties in a medical malpractice claim.
How Does Failure to Diagnose Happen?
Doctors and other health care professionals are ethically and legally bound to provide competent medical care, including giving patients accurate diagnoses in a timely manner.
Unfortunately, this does not always happen. Failure to diagnose cancer can occur for many different reasons. Following are example scenarios:
- The doctor diagnosed and treated a condition with symptoms similar to cancer but not cancer.
- Cancer signs and symptoms were not apparent until the cancer had progressed to a late stage.
- The patient did not have typical cancer symptoms or did not fit the usual age or other demographic for cancer, so cancer tests were not performed.
- A scan or other image was muddied or unclear, or the imaging was performed incorrectly by a worker.
- A health care professional did not read an image correctly or miscommunicated the results or the severity of the results.
- Laboratory tests and bloodwork were tainted or not collected carefully; tests were mixed up with another patient’s results.
- A doctor did not find or look for metastasized cancer, tumors that spread from the original location to other organs/tissues.
- A yearly mammogram showed something suspicious, but the doctor did not identify it as harmful or order additional testing.
- A medical professional dismissed certain symptoms and misdiagnosed the patient with a less serious condition.
- Bloodwork had some abnormal readings, but the doctor did not investigate why or order additional testing.
- There was miscommunication between doctors, specialists, and others concerning the actual state of the patient’s health.
- A busy doctor minimized symptoms or did not spend enough time with the patient to fully understand what was going on.
- A medical professional did not take a patient’s symptoms seriously and concluded their symptoms were all in their head.
What Happens When Cancer is Misdiagnosed?
A medical professional’s failure to diagnose cancer or to misdiagnose it as something else can significantly harm a patient. Cancer is invasive, and some cancers proliferate quickly.
With many types of cancer, early diagnosis can make the disease more treatable, increasing survival chances. When a cancer diagnosis comes too late, the cancer may have already spread to other parts of the body or becomes untreatable. Sometimes the cancer is still treatable but with more intrusive and aggressive methods and worse outcomes, including death.
In some cases, a doctor will eventually diagnose the cancer, but not before it has attacked other organs and tissues. A cancer diagnosis must be both timely and accurate to give the patient a chance of recovery and survival. When it is not timely or accurate, the patient should consult a cancer misdiagnosis lawyer/personal injury lawyer about a medical malpractice lawsuit.
What Steps Should I Take if My Physician Failed to Diagnose My Cancer?
Anyone who has suffered from a misdiagnosis or late diagnosis of cancer should first know they have legal options. Medical malpractice is a crime, one that has devastating effects.
The patient should contact a lawyer as soon as they realize they have been misdiagnosed or diagnosed with cancer in an untimely manner. A cancer misdiagnosis lawyer will generally work as a personal injury lawyer or medical malpractice lawyer. They will have abundant skill and knowledge about what constitutes a failure to diagnose and what compensation a victim can pursue.
Failure to diagnose generally means that a patient exhibited visible cancer signs and symptoms, and therefore, a cancer diagnosis should have been made. A court will compare the medical professional’s actions to the industry’s accepted standard of care, which is the expected level of treatment each patient should receive.
When a cancer diagnosis is not made or is made too late to help the patient be successfully treated or recover, the medical provider can be found negligent in a court of law. Negligence is generally defined as a medical provider’s lack of proper attention and care in treating a patient.
To begin a medical malpractice suit, the patient should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. These types of cases are very complex and can be lengthy. In Maryland, there are several essential things to know about medical malpractice lawsuits:
- There is a statute of limitations. This limits the amount of time a person has to file a lawsuit after enduring harm. For medical malpractice, the injured patient must file a lawsuit within five years after the injury or within three years after the injured patient could have discovered the injury, whichever comes first. There are special considerations for young patients and those with mental disabilities.
- There is a Certificate of Qualified Expert requirement. Within 90 days after filing a medical malpractice claim, the victim must file this certificate, which requires a qualified medical expert to swear under oath that they have reviewed the patient’s claim and believe that:
- The health care provider/defendant did not meet the accepted medical standard of care when treating or diagnosing the patient.
- This failure was the cause of the patient’s injuries.
- There are special requirements for claims that involve damages over $30,000. A lawyer can explain these requirements, but they include waiving arbitration, which is the default for more significant claims.
- There is a cap on noneconomic damages a victim can receive resulting from the same medical injury, no matter how many defendants there are. For injuries that occur in 2021, the cap is $845,000. Assuming no future legislation, victims should add $15,000 for each year after 2021 and subtract $15,000 for each year before 2021.
- Noneconomic damages could include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, scarring or disfigurement, and other effects of medical negligence.
- There is a different cap for wrongful death as a result of medical malpractice.
The bottom line is that anyone who believes they are a victim of medical malpractice should not let the situation go unnoticed or unpunished. Even if a medical professional made an honest and regrettable mistake, they have still horribly affected a cancer sufferer’s life. They need to make amends for their mistakes and not make them with other patients.
Baltimore Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Work Toward Justice for Medical Malpractice Victims
Medical malpractice can have serious consequences for a cancer patient especially. A missing, inaccurate, or untimely cancer diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. Let the Baltimore cancer misdiagnosis lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton hear your story and advise on your options. Our team will handle your case with the care and compassion it deserves and an unwavering commitment to fairness and justice. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) on contact us online for a free consultation.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.