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Can Doctors Get Cancer Diagnosis Wrong?

New York Cancer Misdiagnosis Lawyers

Doctors can get cancer diagnoses wrong. The factors for misdiagnosing arise from the complexity of cancer symptoms, the similarity of symptoms to other conditions, and human error. These scenarios can have life-threatening consequences for a patient and, unfortunately, are not uncommon. A study from The Journal of Clinical Oncology has found an error rate that could range from 4.1% to 44% for cancer misdiagnosis. It further states that this “study establishes that errors in cancer diagnosis are a significant factor in healthcare and have a tremendous impact in terms of disability and cost.”

At Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP, we have helped numerous clients throughout New York and nationwide obtain significant monetary compensation. Since 1971, we have successfully recovered over $2 billion for our clients. We’re ready to help you protect your right to recover compensation for your losses and damages. You may pursue a claim if you have consulted a doctor for a second opinion and they determined the actual diagnosis. Schedule a free consultation about your cancer misdiagnosis today.

Call us at (212) 684-1880 or contact us online today to request your free and confidential consultation.

The Causes of Cancer Misdiagnosis

Various factors may contribute to a doctor’s incorrect diagnosis of cancer. Here are some of the most common:

Human Error

Doctors and medical professionals are human, and as such, they make mistakes. In a fast-paced and high-stress environment, they may miss or overlook crucial details, which could lead to a misdiagnosis. Medical professionals may also work long shifts at irregular hours, which can lead to exhaustion, further compromising their judgment.  Human error remains a potential liability in spite of so-called “never” event protocols established to prevent such errors.

Lack of Communication

In some cases, misdiagnosis occurs because doctors don’t communicate effectively with each other and other medical staff. This could be due to poor record-keeping or failure to consult with other specialists who might have further insights into the patient’s condition. Inaccurate test results can also lead to a misdiagnosis.

Failure to Conduct Appropriate Tests

Sometimes, doctors may skip necessary tests or rely solely on initial results without following up with additional testing, which could result in an incorrect diagnosis or failure to detect certain types of cancer. They could also misdiagnose the stage of cancer, believing they have more time to begin treatment than they do.

Proving Negligence for a Cancer Misdiagnosis

To prove negligence in a cancer misdiagnosis lawsuit, your attorney must show that the doctor or health facility breached their duty of care. In other words, they failed to provide the level of care that a reasonable and competent medical professional would have performed under similar circumstances.

The attorney must also demonstrate that this breach caused harm such as delayed or unnecessary treatment. Finally, you must have evidence of your damages, such as medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.

Damage awards are intended to compensate you for those losses and are the basis for compensation.  The stronger these elements, the better your ability to be reasonably and fully compensated.

The Physical Impacts of Cancer Misdiagnosis

Cancer patients have a much higher chance of survival the sooner they receive diagnosis and treatment. Consequently, if the doctor misses a correct diagnosis and starts treatment for another illness, a patient’s chances of survival decrease–even treatable cancers with high survival rates can prove fatal. In addition, cancer treatments have long-term impacts, including the following:

  • Chemotherapy: Early menopause, infertility, heart problems, hearing loss, and increased risk of other cancers are just some of the many potential side effects.
  • Radiotherapy: Side effects include memory issues, lung disease, increased risk of stroke, and hypothyroidism.
  • Hormone therapy: This can lead to hot flashes, blood clots, sexual side effects, and osteoporosis.
  • Targeted therapy: The symptoms are fewer, but they still include blood clots and cardiovascular issues.
  • Surgery: The primary surgical concern is localized swelling from fluid retention (lymphedema).

Healthcare facilities often hire prestigious legal teams to defend them against medical malpractice. This makes it difficult for patients and their families to get justice. It underscores the need for a skilled and aggressive lawyer to fight for justice while recovering damages, such as lost income and pain and suffering.

The Psychological Implications of Cancer Misdiagnosis

A cancer diagnosis is terrifying. Many people become depressed or begin to worry about getting their affairs in order. Similarly, people who believe they do not have much longer to live might spend differently or begin distributing their assets. If they later find out the cancer diagnosis is an error, they will likely feel relieved, although many of the steps they took could be irreversible. For example, they may have sold their homes with the expectation of going into hospice care.

A misdiagnosis could also allow the actual medical condition to progress. This could lead to more medical bills, co-payments, medications, and a reduced quality of life.

Schedule a Free Consultation After a Cancer Misdiagnosis

Hiring a team of experienced attorneys after a cancer misdiagnosis levels the field and can improve a patient’s chance of getting justice. Our attorneys thoroughly investigate each case, consult expert medical professionals, build a compelling case, and advocate for justice.

Schedule a free consultation with Rheingold Giuffra, Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman. Since we work on a contingency fee basis, you will not pay attorney’s fees unless we win compensation.