When you or someone you love has cancer, a prompt diagnosis is critical to managing the disease effectively. Any delay in the correct diagnosis can allow cancer to spread and reduce the chances of successful treatment. A cancer misdiagnosis can put a patient’s life at risk.
If you have learned that your prognosis might have been better if your doctor had diagnosed your cancer correctly, you might have grounds for a medical malpractice claim. This claim would allow you to hold the negligent doctor responsible and seek financial compensation for your losses.
The North Carolina medical malpractice attorneys at Hardison & Cochran are here to help. We can review your medical diagnosis and discuss whether you have a misdiagnosis claim. Give us a call at (252) 333-3333 or contact us online to discuss your situation during a free case review.
What Is Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Cancer misdiagnosis occurs when a physician fails to order the appropriate diagnostic tests to diagnose a patient’s cancer despite the presence of identifiable cancer symptoms. Misdiagnosing any condition can cause problems, but the life-threatening nature of many types of cancer means a misdiagnosis can be especially consequential. A patient whose cancer is misdiagnosed may undergo unnecessary procedures and require additional treatment. The patient may experience unnecessary pain and suffering.
Many cancer misdiagnosis cases arise because of professional mistakes like:
- Communication breakdown – When multiple doctors, nurses, or technicians handle one patient’s medical data, a breakdown in communication can lead to information not being shared with the patient in a timely fashion.
- Insufficient diagnostic testing– Cancer patients often require multiple diagnostic tests to fully understand their conditions. If a doctor fails to order the proper tests in light of a patient’s symptoms and medical history, the doctor may have acted negligently.
- Failure to listen to patients – Sometimes, doctors fail to diagnose cancers because they ignore their best data sources: patients. Cancer misdiagnosis may occur because a physician does not take the time to obtain a proper patient history.
- Lack of staffing or training – Many hospitals and doctor’s offices are understaffed. This can lead to communication breakdowns.
Cancer Misdiagnosis Malpractice Claims
The Washington Post recently reported on a new study from the Mayo Clinic indicating that more than 20 percent of patients with a serious medical condition receive an incorrect diagnosis from their primary care provider. Cancer misdiagnosis can take several forms, such as:
- Failure to diagnose a patient’s cancer
- Misdiagnosis of a patient’s cancer as another health condition
- Incorrectly diagnosing a patient’s cancer as the wrong type of cancer
- Incorrectly diagnosing the stage of a patient’s cancer
- Diagnosing a patient’s cancer in the wrong part of the body
When a doctor fails to diagnose a patient’s cancer correctly, the consequences for the patient’s health may be devastating. Many forms of cancer can be managed if detected early. If left unchecked, cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body with life-threatening consequences. Cancer that has metastasized can be harder to control. The treatment options may be more limited.
Can You Sue for Misdiagnosis of Cancer?
Yes, If a cancer misdiagnosis has caused you unnecessary suffering, you should talk with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer about whether a cancer malpractice lawsuit is in order.
Medical malpractice claims are complex legal cases with high burdens of proof. They require specialized knowledge and extensive medical evidence to win. If you have questions about whether you have grounds for a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit in North Carolina, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney at Hardison & Cochran as soon as possible. We want to hear from you.
What You Need To Prove in a Cancer Misdiagnosis Case
When you file a medical malpractice claim after a cancer misdiagnosis, you must prove the following elements to hold your provider accountable:
- Your provider was responsible for you as a patient. In most cases, you can prove this element by showing that a doctor-patient relationship existed. If your doctor accepted you as a patient and saw you in a clinical setting, documentation of doctor’s office visits should be sufficient.
- Your provider failed to provide the appropriate level of care. In any given healthcare scenario, doctors must follow the recognized standard of care when providing treatment. You must show that your provider failed to provide you with the level of care that a reasonably competent healthcare provider with comparable experience would have offered in similar circumstances.
- You got hurt due to your provider’s professional negligence. You must show that you suffered preventable harm due to your provider’s misdiagnosis. Testimony from an independent medical expert can help you prove that certain injuries or procedures wouldn’t have been necessary if your provider had given you a correct diagnosis in a timely fashion.
What Types of Compensation Can I Seek in a Misdiagnosis Lawsuit?
When pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can seek compensation for the following types of losses stemming from a cancer misdiagnosis:
- Current and future medical expenses related to the misdiagnosis
- Incidental costs, such as travel costs for additional medical appointments
- Lost wages from missed work due to the misdiagnosis
- Projected losses in your future earning capacity due to the misdiagnosis
- Subjective losses, such as your unnecessary pain and suffering and diminished quality of life
What Is the Average Payout for Cancer Misdiagnosis?
No two medical malpractice claims are exactly alike, so there is no useful average amount for claim payouts. A cancer misdiagnosis can affect the health of patients in dramatically different ways.
According to the American Medical Association, the average payment for a medical malpractice claim in a recent five-year period was $353,473. That includes all types of malpractice cases. Diagnostic errors are a common source of medical malpractice claims. But the specific facts related to your medical record and your cancer diagnosis will determine whether you have a valid claim and are eligible to seek a cancer malpractice settlement.
Get in Touch with Our Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys
The attorneys at Hardison & Cochran have more than three decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured North Carolinians. Let us handle your medical malpractice claim while you focus on the things that matter. Call us at (252) 333-3333 or contact us online to learn more in your free initial consultation session.