Any time a serious illness or disease is misdiagnosed, serious injury or death can occur.
In the case of a cancer misdiagnosis, the results can be devastating.
If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of cancer misdiagnosis, you may have the right to recover compensation.
The experienced New Jersey medical malpractice lawyers of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble assist clients with cancer malpractice claims. We understand how frightening and confusing your situation is, but we can help you pursue the justice and financial compensation you deserve.
Cancer Statistics & the Importance of Early Diagnosis
According to the American Cancer Society, almost two million cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2021—some 56,000 of those in New Jersey alone. More than 600,000 Americans will die this year from this pervasive disease.
Cancer survival rates have increased significantly over the past half-century. However, the American Cancer Society indicates that early and accurate diagnosis of one of the most significant factors related to improved survival rates.
Once cancer spreads to other parts of the body, the chance of survival diminishes. The further the disease has progressed, the more radical the treatment protocols are likely to be.
The Growing Danger of Cancer Misdiagnosis
The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) published a landmark report, “Improving Diagnosis in Healthcare,” that exposes just how pervasive and damaging misdiagnosis can be.
Overall, NAM estimates that Americans fall victim to approximately 31 million diagnostic errors every year, approximately 80,000 of which will cause death or severe disability. Missed and delayed diagnoses compound this problem further.
Disease-specific data has been difficult to obtain in the past. Fortunately, researchers have now delved further into empirical research data to determine the frequency of and degree to which cancer misdiagnosis causes significant harm.
The results indicated that lung cancer is misdiagnosed in 22.5% of cases, breast cancer is misdiagnosed in 8.9% of cases, and the misdiagnosis rate for melanoma is 13.6%.
On average, this research demonstrated that almost 60% of misdiagnosed cancer patients suffered serious harm as result of diagnostic error.
Causes of Cancer Misdiagnosis
The National Academy of Medicine report classified diagnostic errors as delayed, missed, and wrong. The report further categorized diagnostic errors as follows.
No-Fault Diagnostic Errors
These errors occur due to factors outside the control of doctors and clinicians. For example, patients may have provided incorrect or incomplete information or had atypical presentation of the disease.
System-Related Diagnostic Errors
These errors occur due to problems within the clinical organization, including equipment problems, communication errors, inefficient processes, and other technical or organizational issues.
Cognitive Diagnostic Errors
These errors occur due to clinicians having inadequate knowledge, lack of competency, or poor critical thinking skills.
The ultimate reasons that cancer may be misdiagnosed can be attributed to a complex combination of factors.
However, if a doctor or other practitioner did something wrong or failed to do the right thing with regard to a cancer diagnosis, the victim may have a valid basis for pursuing legal action, such as a medical malpractice claim or a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit.
Common Examples of Cancer Diagnostic Errors
Although medical practitioners can commit malpractice in a variety of ways, these are some of the most common types of cancer misdiagnosis errors:
- Failure to perform necessary testing;
- Misinterpretation of test results;
- Delaying testing or treatment;
- Failure to refer the patient to a specialist; and
- Failure to communicate adverse test results.
Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed types of cancer include breast cancer, esophageal cancer, colon cancer, oral cancer, and skin cancer. Brain cancer is also frequently misdiagnosed.
The longer cancer goes incorrectly diagnosed or undiagnosed, the greater the risk to the patient. Once the disease metastasizes in the body, it may be too late for any medical treatment.
Valuing a Cancer Misdiagnosis Legal Claim
Depending on the details of your case, you may be entitled to recover compensation for some or all of the following.
- Medical treatment costs to date;
- Future medical treatment and care costs;
- Lost income and benefits to date;
- Future lost income, benefits, and opportunities;
- Pain and suffering; and
- Emotional trauma.
The best way to determine what your claim might be worth is to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who is familiar with cancer misdiagnosis claims.
In most cases, attorneys can negotiate a settlement with the practitioner’s malpractice insurer. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit and take your case to court.
How Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers Prove Medical Malpractice
This area of the law is arguably one of the most complex forms of personal injury law. Victims often suffer significant economic and non-economic damages, but to recover compensation, attorneys must build the strongest possible case against the at-fault party.
In some cases, such as the no-fault diagnostic errors described above, doctors and other qualified practitioners simply make mistakes. In those cases, malpractice may not have occurred.
However, if the clinician failed to deliver a proper standard of care in some way—and a cancer misdiagnosis or missed diagnosis occurred—the victim could have a viable cause of action for filing a lawsuit.
To prove malpractice, a cancer misdiagnosis lawyer must carefully and thoroughly investigate the details of the victim’s case.
Gathering evidence, potentially including doctors’ records, witness statements, subject matter expert opinions, etc., helps form the basis of the malpractice claim.
Ultimately, your attorney must demonstrate that the practitioner was negligent in delivering your care and demonstrate how you suffered harm as a result.
If you lost a loved one due to a cancer diagnosis error, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. Although recovering a settlement or getting an award in court cannot undo the damage that was done, it can send a powerful message to others.
Talk to one of our New Jersey wrongful death lawyers today to learn more.
You Must File a Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawsuit Quickly
If you or a loved one has suffered a medical malpractice injury such as cancer misdiagnosis, time is of the essence.
Under the New Jersey statute of limitations, you have only two years from the date of your injury to pursue legal action. The sooner you can get an experienced attorney on board, the better.
Despite our client’s 19 visits to the doctor between 2000 and 2003, the doctor failed to diagnose his skin cancer in a timely manner. This led to the disfigurement of the plaintiff’s chin, which required extensive skin grafting. Because our client had a family history of basal cell carcinoma, he started his care ten years prior. However, the doctor failed to diagnose the problem. By the time another dermatologist had found the problem, the cancer had already spread to our client’s chin nerves. Additional surgeries helped but our client was still left disfigured. And while some of the issue was due to a preexisting condition, the jury awarded most of the verdict due to the delayed diagnosis. (Attorney Paul O’Connor handled the case.)
A radiologist recommended a CT scan to analyze a live mass observed in the patient’s abdominal ultrasound images. Unfortunately, the CT scan failed to identify a liver mass, detecting only cirrhosis of the liver. As a result, no further recommendation to perform an MRI or a liver biopsy was made. A year later, the plaintiff had metastatic liver cancer that had spread to his heart. Two months later, the plaintiff died from multiple organ failure. We successfully argued that the failure to order additional diagnostic testing was in fact a deviation from accepted standards of care and the delay in diagnosis resulted in the patient’s cancer spreading, which increased the risk of death. (Attorney Paul O’Connor handled the case.)
This was a medical negligence case against a gastroenterologist and color-rectal surgeon. The defendants failed to perform appropriate randomized biopsies during the plaintiff’s colonoscopies, despite being informed about the patient’s Crohn’s history. They consequently missed the opportunity to diagnose pre-cancerous or early stages of cancer, thus enabling the cancer to grow and spread within the patient’s body. (Attorney Paul O’Connor handled the case.)
Contact a New Jersey Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyer Today
The experienced and compassionate attorneys of O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble understand what you’re going through. You do not have to face this challenge alone.
Our cancer malpractice lawyers work tirelessly to get justice for our clients, taking on doctors and their insurance companies and holding them accountable for the harm they have caused you. We accept medical malpractice cases on contingency, so you won’t owe any legal fees until we recover compensation for your damages.
We have helped countless malpractice victims get justice, recovering millions of dollars on their behalf. With more than a century of combined experience, our compassionate, knowledgeable attorneys know how to help you get the results you deserve.
We have offices in Springfield, Newark, Freehold, Paramus, Woodbridge, and Jersey City, but we can assist you no matter where you’re located. Call us today 908-928-9200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation or to speak directly with a cancer misdiagnosis lawyer now.