Missed & Mistaken Cancer Diagnoses
Medical mistakes can change the entire course of a person’s life . . . and the lives of his or her family members as well. Unfortunately, misdiagnosis is one of the most common types of medical mistakes, affecting thousands of persons each year. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, almost 40 percent of patients who unexpectedly had to return to their primary care doctor—for whatever malady–did so because they had initially been misdiagnosed.
A missed diagnosis or misdiagnosis can run the gamut, from mistaking a heart attack for heartburn to misreading an ultrasound. Both men and women are vulnerable, trusting that their medical caregivers will hold to the highest standards of the profession but sometimes being the victim of negligence and malpractice.
The Louthian Law Firm of Columbia, South Carolina, is a family-owned, family-focused personal injury law practice. We value and respect the women in our own families, and we will treat you with the same degree of compassion and dignity. Many of our clients have written to express their appreciation for the personal attention we gave them in their time of difficulty.
If you have suffered because a doctor misdiagnosed your breast cancer or cervical cancer, if your physician or other health professional was negligent or incompetent, call Bert Louthian at (803) 454-1200 or use our online inquiry form to schedule a confidential evaluation.
Failure to Diagnose Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, striking one in eight. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, nearly 40,000 women will die from breast cancer. Losing a courageous battle with breast cancer is not in and of itself sufficient cause for a medical malpractice claim. However, if a radiologist or oncologist or technician was negligent, making a misdiagnosis or delaying the diagnosis until it was too late, they can be held accountable in a court of law.
The most common diagnostic tests for breast cancer are mammography, untrasound (sonogram) and MRI. If the radiologist errs in reading the test results, missing signs of abnormality, a woman can lose valuable time in her race against cancer. Sometimes an initial screening leads to the recommendation for a further test; when questionable test results are not pursued through additional testing, the failure can have disastrous consequences.
The reliability of diagnostic tests for breast cancer also depends on the skill of the technician performing the test and the procedures of the imaging facility. Do they meet the standards of the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA)? Was the technician properly trained and supervised? Were the images read by a specialist? Were the results clearly communicated to the patient and the treating physician? Was a referral made when appropriate? Was follow-up ordered when necessary?
Failure to Diagnose Cervical Cancer
More than 11,000 American women develop cervical cancer each year, yet it is known as the silent killer, because in its early stages symptoms are unusual. They present in later stages of the disease, diminishing a woman’s chances of surviving the disease or doing so without major intervention. Thus, it is imperative that doctors do everything possible to detect and treat it early.
Cancer of the cervix may be prevented or detected early by regular screening with the Pap test, also known as a Pap smear. Routine screening has cut the death rate from cervical cancer by almost 70% since the 1950s. The Pap test is not able to show with certainty that cancer is present – it simply may show an abnormal result which points to the need for further testing. The tests that are used to diagnose cervical cancer include colposcopy (with biopsy) and endocervical scraping.
Who is responsible for a cervical cancer misdiagnosis? It could be the fault of the physician who failed to inquire about or observe the patient’s clinical signs of developing cancer, such as bleeding, pain, or inflammation. This doctor could also be found negligent if he or she failed to note or act on a laboratory’s recommendation that further tests be conducted. The doctor or his office staff could have failed to properly collect or preserve the Pap smear or other specimen. The cytotechnologist in the lab may have been inadequately trained or may be overworked. The laboratory which stained and interpreted the Pap smear slides could have been negligent in its interpretation or recommendations. The laboratory may not have been clear in its communication with the clinician.
The most common treatments for early stage cervical cancers are radical hysterectomy and radiation therapy, usually in combination with chemotherapy. In later stages, the cancer can spread to the lymph nodes and other areas of the body, requiring extensive surgery, internal and external radiation and chemotherapy drugs that can diminish one’s quality of life.
CALL BERT LOUTHIAN WITHOUT DELAY
If you or someone you love suspects that a doctor, laboratory, technician or other medical professional has failed to make a proper diagnosis, call Columbia medical malpractice attorney Bert Louthian right away. With the Louthian Law Firm you will get hands-on help, exceptional results. Call (803) 454-1200.