Study uncovers shocking rate of pancreatic cancer misdiagnosis

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Diagnostics remains a complicated science. Doctors are asked to locate the cause of an illness without the ability to directly examine the source of the disease. Doctors rely on imperfect diagnostic tools, like blood tests, to calculate cause. They rely on proven methods of detection and statistical analysis to ascertain the probability that “A” disease is more likely the cause than “B” disease. Luckily, these tools are sufficient for most conditions, most of the time. But a new study found that pancreatic cancer, a very deadly form of cancer, is misdiagnosed an astonishing 31 percent of the time.

A study out of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, examined 313 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and found that 31.3 percent of them were initially misdiagnosed. The next most commonly misdiagnosed conditions were gall bladder disease, peptic ulcer disease and gastroesophageal reflux disease.

Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer is incredibly virulent, and a misdiagnosis could be fatal. Doctors need to respond to pancreatic cancer immediately to ensure maximum chances of survival for their patients. The study found that, on average, a patient waited an additional three-and-a-half months before receiving a correct diagnosis. This study illustrates that doctors need more training in identifying pancreatic cancer.

If you or a loved one suffered a worsened condition because your doctor failed to detect a disease or treat an infection, then you may want to call a medical malpractice attorney. Doctors are required to adhere to certain standards within their profession. One of those standards is to stay knowledgeable about the latest developments in medicine. Physicians who treat pancreatic cancer should be familiar with this study and others like it to inform them when it is possible they are making a mistake. A lawyer can investigate and get the answers your family deserves.

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