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Medical Malpractice and the Failure to Diagnose Cancer

When Doctors Fail to Diagnose Cancer

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in Pennsylvania, but early detection and treatment can make all the difference when it comes to outcomes and survival. When doctors fail to diagnose cancer, the disease may spread, rendering treatment more difficult and less likely to succeed. In some cases, doctors who misdiagnose a cancer patient may be held responsible for medical malpractice.

Cancer Diagnosis and Medical Malpractice

Doctors have a responsibility under the law to provide reasonable care to their patients who come to them for diagnosis and treatment. Of course, even a responsible doctor can make a mistake or miss a hard-to-find cancer. However, some physicians fail to live up to their obligations under Pennsylvania medical malpractice law. Because cancer is a progressive disease that spreads and worsens with the passage of time, timeliness is particularly important in providing appropriate treatment. Some of the appropriate diagnostic options that patients can expect if they show symptoms of cancer include the following:
  • Receiving examinations, including lab tests and imaging scans
  • Being referred to a specialist if their results are anomalous
  • Receiving test results promptly
  • Obtaining a plan to treat their disease
If a doctor fails to refer a patient for testing or specialized treatment because he or she doesn't take the patient seriously, this can be a form of medical malpractice. The same is true if a doctor orders the wrong tests or misreads the results or if a physician fails to prescribe a generally accepted cause of treatment for cancer. Again, because the progressive nature of cancer can be so devastating, a misdiagnosis of cancer can lead to a severely worsened medical condition or even death.

Proving Malpractice After Misdiagnosed Cancer

If you've been misdiagnosed and suffered a worsened health condition as a result, you may want to take action to hold the physicians responsible accountable for their failure to act. An Allentown injury lawyer can help you file a medical malpractice lawsuit. It's important to act quickly after you learn about a doctor's failure to diagnose your cancer. There's a statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases; in most cases, you only have two years after the medical error to file a claim. In some cases, the limitation may be extended, such as if you were unaware of the malpractice until after a period of time had passed. Still, it can be particularly important to reach out quickly to an Allentown injury lawyer in order to protect your rights. Medical records, your later correct diagnosis, and treatment information can all be essential when making a claim for medical malpractice. Other doctors can review your initial physician's records to confirm that they should've been able to detect the cancer and begin your treatment and that they failed to do so due to negligence. In most cases, you'll need to show that the first doctor failed to diagnose your cancer and that he or she did so because he or she didn't follow reasonable and acceptable standards of treatment and care. In addition, you'll need to prove that this failure led to the spread of your cancer and a lack of treatment. You'll also need to show the damages you suffered as a result, including loss of quality of life, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An Allentown injury lawyer can help you make the case for a doctor's responsibility for your losses.

Take Action After a Cancer Misdiagnosis

Some of the most frequently misdiagnosed cancers are some of the most common, including lung, breast, and colorectal cancer. In many cases, these cancers could've been detected if a physician had performed the proper testing and follow-up in the first place. If your health has suffered due to a doctor's misdiagnosis or another medical error, reach out to the experienced personal injury law firm of Metzger & Kleiner. Call our Allentown injury law firm at (610) 435-7400 if you're in the Lehigh Valley, or use our simple online form to make an appointment for an initial consultation.

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