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Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer

Cancer—it’s one of those words that stops most of us in our tracks. And when we combine breast with cancer, we have a phrase that women probably fear most. The numbers are certainly sobering: the chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8; the chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36, according to the American Cancer Society. It’s difficult not to go to that “worst case scenario” place in our minds nor imagine months of suffering through medical treatments.

But the numbers can also tell a very different story. When we discuss breast cancer, it’s easy to forget that great strides have occurred in the prevention, detection and treatment of breast cancer, and that people now are living with breast cancer and leading long, productive lives. In fact, the American Cancer Society reports that there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Medical experts universally agree, however, that much of the success of treatment has to do with early diagnosis.

Early Detection & Diagnosis Makes the Difference
In treating cancer, the goal is to find the cancer before it starts to cause symptoms. Screening tests that detect breast cancer can save thousands of lives annually. Unfortunately, if the cancer is not detected in an early stage, the prognosis and survival rates are much less hopeful. When a doctor or radiologist fails to diagnose breast cancer, medical malpractice is apparent. Mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs, and clinical breast exams by a health expert are instrumental in discovering lumps or masses. But, these tests are only as effective as the medical provider interpreting the results. If the doctor fails to diagnose breast cancer, or doesn’t order the screening tests despite compelling evidence or risk of cancer, then negligence has occurred. With many diseases or conditions, time plays a vital role in potential outcomes. This is especially true in the treatment of breast cancer. The medical experts agree that the earlier cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better chance the patient has to recover and live a normal life. When a diagnosis is missed or delayed, the disease has time to grow and spread which may cause the patient to need multiple surgeries, painful and prolonged treatments, or to prematurely lose his or her battle with cancer. A doctor is not responsible for a patient having cancer. But, a physician can be responsible for cancer misdiagnosis and the consequences of cancer misdiagnosis.

How Does Failure to Diagnose Cancer Occur?
When a physician fails to diagnose breast cancer in a timely manner, a patient is robbed of the ability to fight the disease in its early stages. Failure to diagnose cancer or a delayed diagnosis of cancer can be the grounds for a medical malpractice claim if any of these factors are present:

  • The doctor fails to recommend and/or perform the appropriate cancer screening tests
  • The doctor fails to recognize symptoms indicating cancer
  • The screening tests are not properly administered
  • The testing laboratory makes errors that result in a failure to diagnose cancer
  • The radiologists misreads the results of a screening test In our own medical treatment, we may question what went wrong, but we often don’t question where the fault lies and, equally important, could this error have been prevented?

As patients, we seek the advice and professional guidance of those we expect to have greater knowledge and expertise in a particular field. But when something does go wrong and we are robbed of the opportunity to seek out lifesaving treatments, it is crucial to seek the sage advice of trusted counsel. Experiencing cancer is emotionally, physically and psychologically traumatic under any circumstances, but knowing that a cancer misdiagnosis was responsible for the progression of the disease only adds to the anguish. The lawyers at O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble can, however, hold the person or people responsible for the failure to diagnose cancer accountable for their actions.

When is Breast Cancer Medical Malpractice

Failure to diagnose cancer or a delayed diagnosis of cancer generally falls into one of three categories, all of which can be the grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

  • Failure to recommend and/or perform cancer screening
  • Negligent performance of cancer screening/testing
  • Laboratory errors causing failure to diagnose cancer women are encouraged to have mammograms and do self-exams on a regular basis so that any sign of breast cancer is dealt with quickly and effectively. When a woman’s doctor or radiologist fails to diagnose cancer based on those tests, the woman’s life can be endangered. When the medical professionals fail to diagnose breast cancer, they should be held accountable.

In treating cancer, the goal is to find the cancer before it starts to cause symptoms. Screening tests that detect breast cancer can save thousands of lives annually. Unfortunately, if the cancer is not detected in an early stage, the prognosis and survival rates are much less hopeful. When a doctor or radiologist fails to diagnose breast cancer, medical malpractice is apparent. Mammograms, ultrasounds, MRIs, and clinical breast exams by a health expert are instrumental in discovering lumps or masses. But, these tests are only as effective as the medical provider interpreting the results. If the doctor fails to diagnose breast cancer, or doesn’t order the screening tests despite compelling evidence or risk of cancer, then negligence has occurred.

With many diseases or conditions, time plays a vital role in potential outcomes. This is especially true in the treatment of breast cancer. The medical experts agree that the earlier cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better chance the patient has to recover and live a normal life. When a diagnosis is missed or delayed, the disease has time to grow and spread which may cause the patient to need multiple surgeries, painful and prolonged treatments, or to prematurely lose his or her battle with cancer.

We Can Help
At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, we are well versed on the particular circumstances unique to failure to diagnose cancer. The important piece for you to remember is that you—as a patient or representative of a loved one—are entitled to a very specific standard of care by your physician and related medical personnel.

We urge you to consult with us as soon as you suspect you have been subject to medical negligence. We don’t expect you to come to us knowing all the answers—that’s our job. We are continually educating ourselves and keeping up to date with the most current legal changes and news so that we may better serve your needs. Our malpractice attorneys have the experience, expertise and breadth of knowledge to pursue failure to diagnose cancer cases of merit.

At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, we will work diligently on your behalf to provide you with excellent representation. Though damages awarded to the victim of a medical malpractice case vary by situation, rest assured that our attorneys will always strive to seek the maximum allowable. After a thorough review of your case, together, we will determine the most appropriate damages to seek. Compensatory damages include recovery of financial loss in the past as well as an estimate of future loss. Damages may also cover emotional issues such as reduced enjoyment of life due to a disability or loss. Pain and suffering covers the physical and mental distress suffered because of a delay in diagnosis or a failure to diagnose breast cancer.

O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble is one of the most-established and best-known medical malpractice law firms in New Jersey. The initial consultation is free, confidential, and you are under no obligation. Contact us online or call at 1-908-928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817