Failure to Diagnose Cancer

Cancer is a serious health crisis.

According to data from the National Cancer Institute, Approximately 34% of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetimes.

The long-term prognosis for cancer varies widely — in some cases, the condition can be treated effectively, while in other cases, the outlook is poor.

Though, no matter the circumstances, an early diagnosis of cancer is exceptionally important. A proper, timely diagnosis can be the difference between life and death.

Tragically, far too often, doctors do not diagnose cancer soon enough. This can lead to more medical bills, loss of quality of life, and in some cases, death.

At O'Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys have extensive experience handling failure to diagnose cancer claims. We are tireless advocates for patients and their families.

If you suspect that your doctor failed to diagnose your cancer in time, contact our office today for a free, fully confidential initial consultation.

Types of Cancer Doctors Fail to Diagnose

There are more than 100 different types of cancer. With each of these conditions, the importance of early diagnosis and immediate medical intervention cannot be overstated.

As an example, the National Breast Cancer Foundation notes that when healthcare providers catch breast cancer early, it can generally be treated and removed. However, if a patient is not diagnosed in time, the cancer can spread.

Unfortunately, doctors can fail to diagnose all types of cancer. The following are cases that we see most commonly:

If your doctor failed to diagnose you with cancer that subsequently spread, our New Jersey failure to diagnose cancer lawyers can investigate your claim and work with you to build a robust and conclusive case that will hold the provider accountable for their negligence.   

Risk factors That Can Increase the Likelihood of a Missed Diagnosis

An accurate and timely diagnosis is essential to treat cancer before it spreads. Understanding the factors contributing to a missed diagnosis can help minimize this travesty and help patients pinpoint what went wrong if their healthcare provider fails to diagnose them correctly.

Factors that can contribute to a missed diagnosis include the following:

Underlying Administrative Culture and Communication Challenges

A healthcare institution’s administrative culture can influence diagnostic accuracy. Organizations that fail to prioritize open communication, encourage collaboration among healthcare teams, and support a learning environment foster a breakdown in providing accurate diagnoses. Similarly, a healthcare professional’s poor listening skills or miscommunication between them and patients can lead to spotty data and missing information.

Cognitive Biases

Cognitive biases are thought errors that affect how people make decisions. Confirmation bias occurs when a healthcare provider only focuses on information supporting their initial assumptions regardless of other evidence. Anchoring bias occurs when providers fixate on limited information, leading to tunnel vision and dismissing other relevant factors or information. Similarly, availability bias occurs when recent cases or easily accessible information strongly influence a healthcare professional’s assessment at the expense of other relevant evidence. Unfortunately, healthcare professionals are often unaware of how these biases affect a diagnosis.

Overreliance on Technology

While technology has helped save many lives, healthcare professionals that rely heavily on diagnostic tools can unwittingly misdiagnose a patient. For example, a healthcare provider who relies solely on technology might overlook a detailed physical examination or the patient’s comprehensive health history. One of the keys to preventing misdiagnosis is knowing to strike a balance between technological indices and clinical findings.

Lack of Training and Expertise or Specialist Involvement

The type and length of training healthcare professionals receive and their time in practice can influence their ability to make accurate diagnoses. Deficient training or knowledge about specific disease patterns can hinder providers’ interpretation of findings. Similarly, limited access to specialists, long wait times, or a health professional’s failure to recognize the need for a specialist can result in missed or delayed diagnoses.

Fragmented Healthcare and Systemic Issues

It’s common to find multiple healthcare providers working in different departments and networks treating a single patient, resulting in communication gaps and limited access to a patient’s complete medical history. Systemic challenges like limited resources and deficient care coordination can also impact diagnostic accuracy. For example, disorganized referral processes, long waiting times for specialists, and delayed access to diagnostic tests can contribute to missed findings.

Patient Factors

Failure to diagnose cancer isn’t always the result of medical malpractice. Patients often contribute to missed diagnoses by inaccurately self-reporting their symptoms, inadequately communicating their medical history, or failing to disclose relevant information. Patients with language barriers, cognitive impairments, or limited health literacy may face additional challenges conveying their symptoms, complicating the investigative process. Follow-up and monitoring also play a crucial role. And a patient’s failure to schedule appropriate follow-up appointments or submit to necessary tests can lead to missed opportunities for further evaluation and diagnosis.

How to Hold Doctors and Healthcare Providers Liable for Failure to Diagnose Cancer in New Jersey

New Jersey does not expect physicians or healthcare providers to be perfect.

Indeed, if a doctor failed to diagnose cancer, they are not automatically liable for the victim’s damages.

To hold a doctor or medical provider responsible for failure to diagnose cancer, you must be able to prove that the failed diagnosis was medical malpractice. Essentially, medical malpractice occurs when a patient suffers harm because of the negligence of a medical professional or healthcare provider.

In a failure to diagnose cancer claim, a patient must prove that the care they received (the diagnosis) was substandard.

Further, they must prove that, as a result of receiving substandard care, they suffered actual harm. Put another way, patients are typically required to prove that the average medical professional or healthcare provider would have made an accurate, timely cancer diagnosis when placed under similar conditions.

Ultimately, all failure to diagnose cancer malpractice claims must always be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Our New Jersey failure to diagnose lawyers work closely with clients and medical experts to put together a strong and persuasive case that proves the defendant’s negligence.   

Compensation Available to Victims and Their Loved Ones

In New Jersey, victims of medical malpractice are entitled to compensation for both economic and intangible damages. As was mentioned, failure to diagnose cancer may be the basis of a medical malpractice claim.

At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, our skilled New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys know how to help patients and their families get justice and the full financial support they deserve. Compensation may be available for:

  • Emergency room bills;
  • Other medical expenses;
  • Physical therapy;
  • Loss of current and future wages;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Disfigurement;
  • Scarring;
  • Permanent impairments;
  • Reduced quality of life; and
  • Wrongful death damages.

Speak With Our New Jersey Failure to Diagnose Cancer Attorneys Today

At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, our New Jersey medical malpractice attorneys are strong, committed advocates for patients and their families. Every patient deserves an accurate, timely diagnosis to catch cancer early. We hold negligent doctors and healthcare providers accountable.

If your doctor failed to diagnose your cancer in time, you may be eligible for compensation. Our attorneys have tried and settled many of these types of cases, and we are ready to help you today. To schedule your free consultation, contact us online or call us at (908) 928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817.

Speak With Our Failure to Diagnose Cancer Attorneys Today

If your doctor failed to diagnose your cancer in time, you may be eligible for compensation. Our attorneys have tried and settled many of these types of cases, and we are ready to help you today. To schedule your free consultation, contact us online or call us at (908) 928-9200 or 1-800-586-5817.