Can You Sue for Misdiagnosis of Cancer?
Receiving an incorrect diagnosis can be an extremely damaging experience. Doctors must use an appropriate differential diagnosis process to accurately diagnose their patients. This means carefully observing a patient’s behavior and symptoms to come up with a list of possible diagnoses.
Then, the doctor must use a process of elimination to determine the most likely diagnosis. Although many medical conditions mimic the symptoms of others and may be difficult to diagnose, doctors must account for these possibilities and use responsible, thorough diagnostic procedures.
Damages from Cancer Misdiagnosis
When a doctor misdiagnoses a patient, there are several possible negative consequences, including:
- Incorrect treatment. A misdiagnosis can lead to a patient receiving treatment or undergoing procedures that he or she does not actually need. Doctors must account for similar conditions and other factors that may complicate the diagnostic process.
- Worsening of the patient’s condition. If the doctor misdiagnoses a patient’s medical issue, the actual problem may remain untreated for too long and cause serious complications or secondary issues.
- Undergoing damaging treatment. One of the most damaging outcomes of a cancer misdiagnosis is a patient undergoing unnecessary cancer treatments. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy entail a host of unpleasant side effects and are very expensive. If a patient receives an incorrect cancer diagnosis and starts cancer treatment, he or she may suffer severely from the error and develop long-term health complications.
- Misclassification of the patient’s condition. Some types of cancer are similar to others. A misdiagnosis could lead to a patient receiving treatment for one type of cancer when he or she actually has a different cancer altogether.
Cancer treatment often involves powerful medications, invasive surgical procedures, biopsies, and long-term care like chemotherapy and radiation treatments. When a patient receives these treatments without actually needing them the results can be devastating.
Damages in a misdiagnosis case may not only include any additional medical expenses the victim incurred as a result of the incorrect diagnosis, but also economic damages in the form of lost wages for time spent in treatment and recovery, transportation costs, and lost future earning capacity if treatment leads to the victim leaving work. Learn more by speaking with a qualified Philadelphia cancer misdiagnosis attorney.
Plaintiffs in misdiagnosis cases also often qualify to receive pain and suffering damages for the physical pain associated with the side effects of cancer treatment as well as psychological suffering from hair loss, disfigurement, and other non-economic damages resulting from the misdiagnosis.
Taking Legal Action for a Cancer Misdiagnosis
The determining factor in whether a victim of a misdiagnosis has grounds for a medical malpractice claim is if the doctor violated the acceptable standard of care for the patient’s condition. “Standard of care” refers to the level of treatment a competent and reasonable doctor would provide to a patient with a given condition.
Some types of cancer like prostate cancer and breast cancer have very clearly defined age-based screening tests. If a doctor fails to perform such a test and provides an incorrect diagnosis, this would be a clear violation of the standard of care. In less straightforward cases, other medical experts may need to testify as expert witnesses to report whether the doctor’s error was a reasonable mistake or a failure to meet the standard of care.
A medical malpractice lawsuit can help a victim of a misdiagnosis secure substantial compensation for his or her economic losses and pain and suffering from the effects of ineffective or inappropriate treatment. If a doctor incorrectly diagnosed a patient with cancer and the patient underwent treatment for a condition he or she didn’t actually have, the damage can be devastating. Anyone in such a situation should contact an experienced Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.